MADAWASKA, Maine — With just three weeks before school starts and an incomplete budget for this school year, the Madawaska School Department is facing the resignation of its superintendent.
Terry Wood, who has been superintendent since July 2011, notified school committee members and administrators of her plans to resign via phone calls and emails, according to committee chairman Roger Thibodeau, who added Wood cited “personal reasons” for the abrupt resignation.
“I learned of her resignation [Thursday] at 11:30 a.m.,” Thibodeau said Friday morning. “She called and told me over the phone.”
Messages left for Wood on Friday were not immediately returned.
The Madawaska School Committee abruptly cancelled a scheduled meeting Thursday night in the wake of the resignation because, according to Thibodeau, they did not know how to proceed.
“It’s all up in the air right now,” Thibodeau said. “But we have to move on this.”
The resignation also shocked some of the members of the Madawaska Education Association.
“When I recieved the email it was a total surprise,” Bonnie Tingley, association co-president said Friday. “Now the school committee needs to look [at how] to move forward.”
According to Thibodeau, Wood informed him that she has has not specified a date by which her resignation is effective.
“She is saying she needs to give [the school committee] a date of the resignation,” he said. “But to me, she was done [Thursday] at noon [and] she is out, she is gone.”
However, Thibodeau did say Wood’s resignation has not been officially accepted by the school committee.
Thibodeau said he is hoping to call a school committee meeting next week to discuss the superintendent’s position.
In the meantime, he is seeking outside advice on behalf of the school committee.
“I spoke to a [Maine] department of education lawyer, and he wants to see her contract,” Thibodeau said. “I also talked to someone down at the [Maine School Management Association] about getting an interim [superintendent] to fill the position.”
Options like using an interim superintendent or making the position part time are worth considering, Madawaska Town Manager Christina Therrien said Friday.
“They need a liaison to share information with the teachers so the goals that need to be accomplished are accomplished,” Therrien said. “They need a communicator and a team builder.”
Whatever the committee does, Thibodeau, said, it needs to do it soon.
Failure to incorporate voter-mandated cuts into the school budget last year left administrators, teachers and school committee members amending and re-amending the budget before it was finally approved by residents in January. More than 20 percent of the 43-member faculty was eliminated as the community faced heavy tax revenue losses because of property tax abatements granted to Twin Rivers Paper Co.
Work immediately began in January but has yet to be completed on the current budget for the fiscal year which started July 1.
“School starts in three weeks,” Thibodeau said. “And we don’t even have our budget ready.”