Cape Elizabeth hopes to hire new school chief this month

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CAPE ELIZABETH — The search for a new superintendent of schools continues to come into sharper focus with a time-line for selection.

School officials and the School Board also are shaping the fiscal 2018 School Department budget. 

A new school chief may be hired by the end of this month, according to School Board Chairwoman Elizabeth Scifres.

“We hope to share one or two finalist names with the public during the second-to-last or last week of this month,” Scifres said. “We have planned to visit the finalists’ home school districts, as well as have them visit Cape Elizabeth.

“During their visit to Cape, they will tour the schools and meet with staff and students (where appropriate).  We will also have an evening for parents and community members to meet and speak with the finalist(s),” she continued. “During those visits, we will collect feedback from everyone who meets with the finalist(s). We are on track to hire a new superintendent by the end of March with a July 1 start date.”

Scifres would not disclose how many applicants there are, who they are or where they are from.

The search for a new superintendent began after former Superintendent Meredith Nadeau announced her resignation in January 2016. Two finalists were selected to interview for the post, but both backed out in April 2016.

Central Lincoln County School System Superintendent Steven Bailey withdrew from consideration first and was followed a week later by Craig King, superintendent of Regional School Unit 10 in Dixfield.

Former Mount Desert Island Regional School System Superintendent Howard Colter was hired as an interim superintendent as of July 1, 2016. He is expected to stay on the job until June 30. 

Colter said a representative group of community members, teachers and administrators joined the School Board in screening applications. Another representative group is involved with interviews, which started Wednesday, he said.

He continues to shepherd the district, which educates about 1,600 students in all grades among the town’s three schools.


In a Feb. 28 workshop, Colter presented a spending plan with a proposed 1.6 percent increase over the current $24.3 million budget, according to the town website. 

If approved without changes, the tax rate for school services would increase from $12.40 to $12.85 per $1,000 of property valuation. 

School Business Manager Catherine Messmer recommended to Colter last month that $800,000 from a $1.4 million fund balance be used to offset an expected $800,000 loss of state funding to keep a tax increase at bay.  

April 11 is the scheduled date for the adoption of the budget by the School Board. On April 25, the budget will be presented to the Town Council. May 8 is the council’s municipal budget hearing, and adoption of the municipal budget is set for May 15 during a Town Council special meeting.

June 13 is the date of the school budget validation referendum. The fiscal year begins July 1.

Lisa Connell can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 183 or Follow Lisa on Twitter: @connell_ld.