BELFAST, Maine — After nearly two hours of closed-door deliberations, the Regional School Unit 20 Board of Directors voted Wednesday night to renew Superintendent Brian Carpenter’s contract for one more year.
The vote was not unanimous. Anthony Bagley, James Cunningham and Percy King of Searsport, Denise Dakin of Stockton Springs, Stephen Hopkins of Belmont, Valerie Mank of Searsmont, Debra Riley of Northport and Alan Wood of Belfast were in favor of renewing the contract. Caitlin Hills and Christopher Hyk of Belfast, Tony Swebilius of Morrill and Alexa Schweikert of Swanville opposed. The other five members of the board did not attend the meeting.
Carpenter was given a two-year contract when he was hired in June 2012. This extension will last until 2015.
Schweikert, asked Thursday why she voted against renewing Carpenter’s contract, said she did not want to comment on a private personnel issue. But going forward, she said she is hopeful that the superintendent and the board of directors can work together to get the troubled school district on the right track.
Currently, six of the eight member towns are seeking to withdraw from the district, which has struggled with budget cuts and declining enrollment in recent years.
“The superintendent’s invited the community to be involved in this next process with the board,” Schweikert said, adding that reorganizing the district’s schools is the next hurdle to jump. “We hope they participate. We’re at a real turning point with our schools.”
After the New Year, Carpenter and the board of directors will seek participation from the public as the group works on a reorganization strategy. The board has whittled the seven proposed reorganization plans down to three, Schweikert said.
The next regular board meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 14, in the Searsport District High School cafeteria.