Freeport-Pownal-Durham school superintendent resigns unexpectedly

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FREEPORT — Regional School Unit 5 Superintendent Ed McDonough has resigned, effective June 30.

McDonough, who is in his first year as the RSU 5 school chief, announced his resignation March 30 in an emergency, closed-door School Board meeting. He cited personal reasons.

The superintendent, who formerly held the position in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and in the Wells-Ogunquit school district, on Friday said he’s leaving the Freeport-Pownal-Durham school district “for personal reasons that require my immediate attention, with deep regret.”

His resignation comes as voters in Durham are deciding whether to pursue withdrawing from the RSU. A vote Friday will decide if the town should proceed with the 22-step process that could lead to it leaving the school district.

McDonough, 60, will stay with the district through the end of the school year, but said he can stay on to help the transition to his replacement.

Michelle Ritcheson of Durham, chairwoman of the RSU 5 Board of Directors, called McDonough’s decision “unfortunate.”

“I’m disappointed because I thought he was doing a great job with the district,” Ritcheson said, “but I understand that our lives don’t totally revolve around our jobs.”

She said the School Board will quickly begin recruting and advertising for a new superintendent.  The board has posted the job opening on the district website, with an application deadline of April 28. The start date is July 1.

McDonough was hired in February 2015 and started last August. He replaced co-interim Superintendents William Michaud and Michael LaFortune, who filled in after the RSU’s first superintendent, Shannon Welsh, retired in 2014.

McDonough said he’ll miss working in RSU 5.

“I’ve had a wonderful time here,” he said Friday. “It’s a strong district with a good team.”

Larry Grard of Sun Media Wire contributed. 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.