New superintendent hired for Patten, Smyrna area schools

RSU 50 Superintendent Larry Malone speaks recently with Holly Vining, district business manager. Malone took over as superintendent on July 1.
Joseph Cyr | Houlton Pioneer Times
RSU 50 Superintendent Larry Malone speaks recently with Holly Vining, district business manager. Malone took over as superintendent on July 1.
Posted Aug. 09, 2012, at 5:12 p.m.

DYER BROOK, Maine — Starting its second year as a consolidated school district, RSU 50 finally has a new leader to guide the district.

Larry Malone took over as the new superintendent on July 1. He replaces John Doe, who has served as interim superintendent for the past year. Prior to that, Doe was superintendent for SAD 25.

RSU 50 is comprised of SAD 25 (Stacyville, Patten, Sherman and Mount Chase); and CSD 9 (Island Falls, Dyer Brook, Oakfield, Merrill, Smyrna and Crystal), as well as the towns of Hersey and Moro Plantation.

Malone grew up in Danforth and began his career in education at East Grand School in Danforth, where he taught middle school math and social studies as well as physical education for grades K-12. He is a familiar face to many at Southern Aroostook Community School in Dyer Brook, having served as the school’s high school principal for seven years (1993-2000). For the past 12 years, Malone was employed at RSU 67 in Lincoln as the junior high school principal for six years, and then building principal for the past six years.

RSU 67 is a school district of about 1,200 students. RSU 50 has a combined student population of about 824 students, according to the state Department of Education website.

Malone said he was excited about the prospects of returning to an area he spent many positive years at, only this time as the superintendent.

“I had a good experience here before and I was looking for an opportunity to be an administrator at the next level,” Malone said. “I know this position will be a challenge in regards to managing the RSU coming together, but that’s a challenge I am excited about.”

Having several former associates still affiliated with the district has made the transition a bit easier.

“There are quite a few familiar faces,” Malone said. “My secretary Elaine [Small] was the high school secretary and Holly [Vining, the district’s business manager] was actually a student when I was principal.”

Looking at ways to improve services across the RSU and supporting education for the students will be among his top priorities.

“How can we improve upon what we are doing is a question we have to be asking,” he said.

Although the school districts are united in an RSU, Malone acknowledged there are still two distinctly different districts to manage, which could be a big challenge.

“We need to recognize and maintain the culture and traditions of the two districts as we go forward,” Malone said. “But we also need to look at how we share our services to be more efficient. I plan to have contact with both ends of the district on a regular basis.”

Financial concerns are another big issue in today’s economy.

“How do we provide the quality of education that we aspire to have, while keeping it fiscally responsible to the communities will be another challenge,” he said.

Working closely with the RSU 50 school board, Malone said he would like to see a long-range strategic plan implemented to target areas that need immediate improvement, as well as what the needs for the district are down the road.

“We’ll be formulating more committees to take a look at areas we need to improve, such as facilities,” he said.

Adding a new high school principal at Katahdin Area High School, following the retirement of Rae Bates, was one of the first items Malone and the board worked on. The group has appointed Eryn Cole Schmidt, a middle school math teacher at Katahdin, as the new high school principal on a one-year interim basis.

“She will have the option at the end of the year to make a decision as to whether she wants to continue as the principal or go back to her teaching position,” Malone said.

Malone will primarily be based out of the superintendent’s office at SACS. He can be reached at 757-8223 or by email at lmalone@rsu50.org.

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