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UPDATE: Loughlin gets interim job replacing Hasson as SAD 51 school chief

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UPDATE: Loughlin gets interim job replacing Hasson as SAD 51 school chief

CUMBERLAND — Robert Hasson, superintendent of School Administrative District 51 for 20 years, will leave the job Nov. 1 to become deputy executive director of the Maine School Management Association.

Sally Loughlin, the district director of curriculum, assessment, instruction and professional development since 2010, and former assistant superintendent of Topsham-based SAD 75, will serve as interim superintendent through June 30, 2014.

The SAD 51 Board of Directors voted 7-2 Monday to appoint Loughlin; it will discuss the process for hiring a permanent replacement for Hasson on Monday, Oct. 7.

Loughlin expressed gratitude for the board's support in an email Tuesday.

"It's an honor to be given this opportunity and I am confident that together we'll be able to maintain our focus on learning and teaching," she said. "Ensuring every student's success is our mission."

Jim Moulton, who with John Simpson voted against the interim appointment, said Tuesday that his issue was not with Loughlin, but rather his concern that the process was moving too quickly, and that other candidates should have been considered.

"I thought we ought to post it, and see if in fact she was the best," Moulton said.

School Board Chairwoman Karen Campbell said Tuesday that Loughlin "has obvious strengths and ability, and the leadership skills that the district will need in the near future. She's been an integral part of many of the district's present initiatives."

A second School Board vote Monday, on allowing Campbell to negotiate a contract with Loughlin, passed unanimously, the chairwoman said.

A plan will be developed to cover Loughlin's existing duties, Hasson said Tuesday.

The news of Hasson's departure came two days after the board of the Cumberland-North Yarmouth school district agreed to negotiate a one-year contract extension and a pay raise with the superintendent.

"The two (events) were not connected," SAD 51 Board Chairwoman Karen Campbell said last week.

Campbell added that "we went through the approval process and were able to share with Bob our validation of him ... but he made the decision to accept (the) position."

Hasson expressed excitement last week about his new job, saying that "it seems to be a good match with where my skills and attitudes and experience are at this point." He will also serve as executive director of the Maine School Superintendents Association.

The South Portland resident, who has lived about 50 of his 59 years in that city, is married and has two children. Both his parents were teachers.

Before becoming an administrator, Hasson taught elementary school, and also worked with court-adjudicated youths and with students with developmental disabilities and "a major psychiatric diagnosis," he said.

Prior joining SAD 51, Hasson was assistant superintendent, principal and special services director in the Wells-Ogunquit schools. He earned his doctorate in 1992, and has also served on the MSSA executive board.

Robert Vail, who has spent 14 years on the School Board, said last week that he wishes Hasson well.

"(Hasson is) a very, very, very smart man. I think he has the best intentions when it comes to educating kids," Vail said. "And if money were no object, I'm sure that he could do great things in any school district."

Vail, however, is among those who were critical of the way Hasson earlier this year handled the district's purchase of a security system that ended up costing $276,000 – significantly more than the $50,000 to $60,000 Hasson originally proposed.

"I think there were some missteps, but it didn't rise to the level of what I would call a fireable offense," Vail said last week as the board was deciding whether to offer Hasson the contract extension. "On the other hand, I wouldn't reward him with more money, either."

Hasson has explained that the installation was moving quickly, and apologized for failing to keep the School Board informed about the increasing expense.

The security system issue had nothing to do with his decision to change jobs, the superintendent said.

"(It was) a part of the process of being a superintendent, and part of the process of moving with the School Board, and those types of things occur," he said. "And I felt like the board as a whole was extremely supportive and understood the situation, and had moved on."

In the MSMA announcement Sept. 25, Executive Director Connie Brown said "We are fortunate and excited to have someone with Bob's experience join the administrative team at MSMA. He has been an active mentor and coach within the profession while serving as superintendent and now will be a resource and advocate for school administrators on a statewide basis."

Brown said in an interview last week that "we had great people (apply), but Bob was an outstanding candidate. And we are thrilled that he is coming to MSMA."

Hasson replaces Sandra MacArthur, she said.

He said the position matches up with some of the things he would like to do. In his new roles, he will work on School Board development and superintendent searches and support, he explained.

Hasson noted in the MSMA statement that he sees his role as "supporting superintendents and school boards as they work to give every student in Maine a 21st-century education."

“One of the challenges is adequate funding for schools," he said. "We need to advocate for reliable funding for all learners and form strategic coalitions to provide effective educational leadership on a statewide level."

Campbell last week called Hasson "a visionary leader who has guided our district into becoming one of the finest school systems in the state."

Since he joined the district in 1993, Hasson "has been steadfast in his desire to create meaningful educational opportunities for all students and has been focused upon recruiting and retaining extraordinary teachers and administrators," Campbell said in a district press release.

"Under Bob’s tutelage the district has emerged as a leader in implementing innovative programs such as all-day kindergarten and the International Baccalaureate Program," she added. "We are grateful for all that he has been able to accomplish for the students who live in our two communities."

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.