Longtime Cumberland-area school boss leaving to help lead state superintendents group

Posted Sept. 26, 2013, at 6:10 a.m.

CUMBERLAND, Maine — Robert Hasson, superintendent of School Administrative District 51 for 20 years, will leave the job Nov. 1 to become deputy executive director of the Maine School Management Association.

Hasson also will serve as executive director of the Maine School Superintendents Association, MSMA announced Wednesday in a press release.

The news came two days after the board of the Cumberland-North Yarmouth school district agreed to negotiate a one-year contract extension and a pay raise with Hasson.

“The two [events] were not connected,” SAD 51 board Chairwoman Karen Campbell said Wednesday.

Campbell added that “we went through the approval process and were able to share with Bob our validation of him … but he made the decision to accept [the] position.”

Robert Vail, who has spent 14 years on the school board, said Wednesday that he wishes Hasson well.

“[Hasson is] a very, very, very smart man. I think he has the best intentions when it comes to educating kids,” Vail said. “And if money were no object, I’m sure that he could do great things in any school district.”

Vail, however, has also been critical of the way Hasson earlier this year handled the district’s purchase of a security system that ended up costing $276,000 — significantly more than the $50,000 to $60,000 Hasson originally proposed.

“I think there were some missteps, but it didn’t rise to the level of what I would call a fireable offense,” Vail said this week as the board was deciding whether to offer Hasson the contract extension. “On the other hand, I wouldn’t reward him with more money, either.”

Hasson has apologized for failing to keep the school board informed about the increasing expense.

In the MSMA announcement Wednesday, Executive Director Connie Brown said, “We are fortunate and excited to have someone with Bob’s experience join the administrative team at MSMA. He has been an active mentor and coach within the profession while serving as superintendent and now will be a resource and advocate for school administrators on a statewide basis.”

Brown said in an interview Wednesday that “we had great people [apply], but Bob was an outstanding candidate. And we are thrilled that he is coming to MSMA.”

Hasson replaces Sandra MacArthur, she said.

Hasson noted in the MSMA statement that he sees his role as “supporting superintendents and school boards as they work to give every student in Maine a 21st century education.”

“One of the challenges is adequate funding for schools,” he said. “We need to advocate for reliable funding for all learners and form strategic coalitions to provide effective educational leadership on a statewide level.”

Campbell on Wednesday called Hasson “a visionary leader who has guided our district into becoming one of the finest school systems in the state.”

Since he joined the district in 1993, Hasson “has been steadfast in his desire to create meaningful educational opportunities for all students and has been focused upon recruiting and retaining extraordinary teachers and administrators,” Campbell said in a district press release.

“Under Bob’s tutelage the district has emerged as a leader in implementing innovative programs such as all-day kindergarten and the International Baccalaureate Program,” she added. “We are grateful for all that he has been able to accomplish for the students who live in our two communities.”

Before his time with SAD 51,Hasson was assistant superintendent, principal and special services director in the Wells-Ogunquit schools. He has also served on the MSSA executive board.

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