EAST MILLINOCKET – Sandra MacArthur, who has served as School Union 113 school superintendent for two years, is resigning her post effective June 30.
MacArthur, the first woman to lead East Millinocket, Medway and Woodville school departments, will assume her new duties as superintendent of SAD 59 in the Madison area on July 1.
Coincidentally, MacArthur and Millinocket Superintendent Brent Colbry, who have served as superintendents in towns only 10 miles apart, will continue that relationship. Last week, Colbry was selected as the superintendent for SAD 54 in the Skowhegan area.
SAD 59’s 11-member board unanimously voted to hire MacArthur on Monday. She was given a one-year contract, a salary of $81,500 and benefits. The district includes the towns of Athens, Brighton Plantation and Starks. The district serves more than 1,000 students and has a budget of $9.4 million.
MacArthur described the move as a career opportunity. She said she has enjoyed the opportunity of working with the school union board, a dedicated and hardworking administrative team and staff and terrific students.
She said her leaving had nothing to do with the current economic uncertainties facing the area. She said the region has faced economic uncertainties for much of her career in education. “The first year I was there, I was riffed [cut] as a teacher because of the economic situation. The union has been dealing with that for a number of years now.”
She said working for the school union has provided her with challenges and opportunities to learn.
As for the future, MacArthur said she believes the schools in the Katahdin region could be served by one superintendent. She said the school union faced a lot of uncertainty as the result of Great Northern Paper Inc.’s bankruptcy. “They have economic challenges ahead of them,” she said. “They are going to have to make some very difficult decisions in the next few months related to the economic instability of the community and the impact that is going to have on the educational quality.”
Steven Federico, chairman of the union board, said he was extremely disappointed to see MacArthur leave. “It creates another big void with all of the economic uncertainties that we face and the reorganization,” he said. “We are losing all of the leadership in this area between Colbry and Sandra. It is going to leave a very big void for anyone to come in and fill even with area school consolidation.”
Federico said the economic uncertainties of the region could make it very difficult to attract a new superintendent. He said many superintendent jobs were open across the state with a shortage of people to fill them.
Federico said there was a possibility the school union and the Millinocket School Department could jointly seek an interim superintendent.
He said Medway school officials would be looking at all educational alternatives to provide students with the best education at the best price.
Donald M. Hendsbee, chairman of the East Millinocket School Board, said he wished MacArthur the best of luck in her new position.
Hendsbee said the resignations of MacArthur and Colbry opened the door for having one superintendent for the schools in the Katahdin Region. “It is an opportunity we can’t pass up even if we do not consolidate area schools,” he said. “We should have one school union and one superintendent and that would save us money.”
MacArthur has about 18 years of service in education. She served many of those years working for the Millinocket School Department, went to SAD 25 in the Patten-Sherman area and has spent the past six years in School Union 113 where she served as a special education teacher, director of special services and superintendent.
She is the liaison between the Maine School Superintendent’s Association and the Maine State PTA, is one of the founders of a core group for the Maine Small School Network, which recently received funding from the Gates Foundation.