Cape Elizabeth extends school superintendent's contract

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CAPE ELIZABETH — The School Board has decided to extend Superintendent Meredith Nadeau’s contract by one year, to June 2018.

The decision means Nadeau will be in the post for the entirety of the School Department’s five-year strategic plan.

The contract extension comes only a few weeks after Nadeau was a finalist for a superintendent’s position in Weston, Massachusetts. It was announced Jan. 22 that she wasn’t chosen for the job. 

Nadeau’s annual salary when she was hired in 2011 was $123,000. For the next 3 1/2 years it will be $132,000. According to School Board Chairwoman Joanna Morrissey, the increase was already in Nadeau’s contract and isn’t a result of the extension.

Board members who supported the contract extension said it is important to keep Nadeau.

“I enthusiastically support the extension of this contract,” board member John Christie said. “We have an outstanding superintendent in place and I hope to keep that continuity in our leadership position throughout the term of our strategic plan at least.”

Christie said Nadeau works well as part of a team and does a good job creating the budget each year.

Board member Michael Moore also said it’s important to have the same person in place through the end of the strategic plan. He said change can be hard and it can be tough to have difficult conservations about goals that need to be accomplished with someone who is new in a position.

“Changing or not having someone as superintendent during that strategic plan would just defer these conversations and some of the challenges we need to overcome, so I wholeheartedly support extending (Nadeau’s) contract,” Moore said.

Barbara Powers, who was the only board member to vote against the contract extension, said it is too soon to make a decision and that the board shouldn’t rush.

“There’s still 2 1/2 years left and there is sort of an expectation of an evaluation of your superintendent with goal-setting (before extending a contract),” Powers said. “So the context for me in this tonight is very puzzling. It’s not feeling timely to talk about adding a year.”

Board member David Hillman said it is OK to be moving forward quickly with the contract extension. He said the board had to be practical about the situation because of how many superintendent openings there are in Maine, as well as in surrounding states.

“We almost lost her,” Hillman said. “We’d be fools not to do this. I don’t want to lose her and I certainly don’t want to spend two years to find someone that’s half as good.”

Hillman said he wouldn’t want to risk another district looking at Nadeau again and that the board should extend the contract to ensure Nadeau will stay in Cape Elizabeth.

“If we have a chance to extend the contract, we should take it while we can,” he said. “There’s way too much competition out there, especially for someone as high quality as Meredith.”

Morrissey said extending Nadeau’s contract would show the support the board has for her.

“I’m pleased that she is willing to consider sticking with the district after having been actively recruited (in Massachusetts),” Morrissey said. “It has only highlighted the value that (Nadeau) brings to our district.”

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

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I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.