Cape Elizabeth board defers on remaining school chief candidate

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CAPE ELIZABETH — The School Board on Wednesday did not act after privately discussing the only remaining candidate for superintendent.

Craig King, superintendent of Regional School Unit 10 in Dixfield, is the only finalist left from the search to replace Superintendent Meredith Nadeau, who is leaving at the end of the school year after leading the district for five years.

Steven Bailey, who heads the Central Lincoln County School System, withdrew from consideration.

After an executive session Wednesday night to discuss whether to hire King, the School Board took no action, according to Chairwoman Elizabeth Scifres.

King toured the schools on Wednesday.

In a message to the community Monday, Scifres said, “Although we now have one candidate, this visit is not a formality. Wednesday will be a daylong interview with various stakeholder groups. (And) the board will be gathering feedback from everyone with whom he meets.”

Scifres on Tuesday said if the School Board determines that King is not the best fit, it would hire an interim superintendent and resume the search for a permanent school chief next winter.

“Ultimately, it has to be a good fit for both the school district and the candidate,” Scifres said. “The superintendent of schools is incredibly important not only to the school district, but the community. Hiring a superintendent is arguably the most critical job of a school board.”

Scifres added that the board also feels a responsibility to ensure the search process includes stakeholder input at every step, and to make sure process is “deeply thoughtful and arduous.”

In her message to the community earlier this week, Scifres said King’s visit to Cape on Wednesday would start with a meeting with Central Office administrators and staff, followed by Town Council members and the town manager.

“From there,” she said, “he will have coffee with a few parents, representatives of the Cape Elizabeth Education Foundation and members from all three parents’ associations. Dr. King will (also) visit all three schools, having student-led tours where possible, as well as meet-and-greet sessions with staff. Building and department administrators will then have time to meet with (him).”

The day ended with a reception for King at the Inn by the Sea and then the special meeting of the School Board.

King’s background includes nine years as principal of Mt. Ararat High School in Topsham, along with positions as a junior high/high school assistant principal and principal in Mississippi. He’s also taught at both the elementary and high school levels internationally and in Mississippi.

In a prior interview, King said conversations he’s had with the School Board and school staff “have left me with a very positive impression” of the Cape Elizabeth school system.

“Although Cape Elizabeth is a very high-functioning school department, with impressive student and faculty achievement, it’s not interested in resting on its laurels. (The district) wants to (continue to) engage all students at high levels and expand previously untapped learning opportunities,” he said.

Bailey this week said he withdrew as a candidate for superintendent because “after a great deal of thought and deliberation I decided to stay put in my current position. We are in the middle of many important initiatives in my current school system that I want to see through to completion.”

Kate Gardner of The Forecaster contributed to this report.

Craig King

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