Millinocket school superintendent to step down in June

Posted Dec. 11, 2013, at 2:53 p.m.
Last modified Dec. 11, 2013, at 7:01 p.m.
Kenneth Smith
Nick Sambides Jr. | BDN
Kenneth Smith Buy Photo

MILLINOCKET, Maine — Superintendent Kenneth Smith will resign his position on June 30, the end of his contract, officials said Wednesday.

“I believe I have done all I can to maintain a fine public school system and to move the system ahead. Accordingly, I respectfully submit my resignation,” Smith said in a letter to new school board Chairman Michael Jewers dated Dec. 4, in which he promised to work for an orderly transition to a new superintendent.

Smith saluted the School Department’s “many years of tradition, which include academic, musical and athletic achievements for which all members of the community should be proud.” He said the system had many excellent and hardworking employees.

Jewers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

“Obviously there are many issues that people have to confront but I feel like I have done all that I can,” Smith said Wednesday during a brief interview.

The Town Council was due Thursday to review an auditor’s report on town finances, which is expected to include information on how the schools’ China program is faring economically, but that meeting will be rescheduled due to scheduling conflicts, Smith said. No date has been set, he said.

Seven Chinese students attended Stearns High School last year, each paying about $24,000 tuition. The franchising fees earned through the high school curricula licensed in China by Smith total over $100,000 so far, he said in June. When the $6.63 million budget was approved in June, the school committee chairman Kevin Gregory described the program as the key to the school department remaining solvent over the next year.

When asked about the sustainability of education in Millinocket given continuing declines in the Katahdin region’s population, local economy, state revenue-sharing and education funding, Gregory answered, “a lot depends on the international program.

“If we can grow that international program, we will survive. If we don’t, we won’t. It’s that simple,” Gregory said. “The school system won’t survive unless we can bring more kids in.”

It was unclear whether the program’s current economic status had any impact upon the resignation. Town Manager Peggy Daigle did not return a message left Wednesday.

Smith said that the international program is in the black this year and its revenues paid for about $105,000 in pay raises in the 2012-13 fiscal year, which ended June 30. The program has nine students enrolled this year and is expecting another student, from Brazil, in January, Smith said.

CORRECTION:

An earlier story incorrectly reported that Millinocket School Committee Chairman Kevin Gregory resigned his position. Board members voted to have Michael Jewers replace him after last month’s election.

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