BATH — The Regional School Unit 1 Board of Directors voted unanimously Monday evening to hire Patrick Manuel as the district’s new superintendent.
The same day, departing Superintendent William Shuttleworth announced he will become school chief for the Camden-Rockport area schools of the Five Town Community School District and School Administrative District 28.
Manuel is currently assistant superintendent of Regional School Unit 21, which includes Arundel, Kennebunk and Kennebunkport. The Topsham resident will replace Shuttleworth in RSU 1 on July 1.
School Board Chairman Tim Harkins said Tuesday that 11 people applied for the RSU 1 job.
Harkins said Manuel “has excellent credentials, strong vision, and everyone that we spoke to said he (has) the highest integrity. Those were the three elements that drew us to Patrick.”
Harkins acknowledged that Manuel “will have his work cut out for him” in RSU 1, which faces a more than $1 million loss in state and federal revenue in fiscal 2012.
“There are a lot of challenges facing the district right now,” Harkins said. “It’s still trying to come together as an RSU, the budget challenges that we’re facing, and the board certainly wants to create more rigor in the curriculum and more academic accountability. So those are the charges that Patrick’s faced with, but I get the sense that he’s up for it.”
Manuel started as assistant superintendent in RSU 21 seven years ago, and he served as interim superintendent in 2008-2009. Prior to that he was principal at Phippsburg Elementary School from 2000-2004. He was also an assistant principal and athletic director at Wiscasset High School, and taught in central Maine.
While the closer proximity to his Topsham home played a part in his interest in the job, Manuel said his experience within the district was more important. He said the most fun he ever had at work was probably at Phippsburg.
“It gave me an opportunity to get to know some of the other schools (that are) in RSU 1 now,” Manuel said. “I would work with Bath Middle School, because we had kids that would transition from Phippsburg to the middle school. I dealt a little bit with Morse High School when I was the assistant principal at Wiscasset, because of the vocational center and athletics and things like that.”
He said RSU 1 has a good reputation for “doing some positive and innovative things that are good for kids.”
Manuel said forging a budget in tough economic times will probably be the most challenging part of the job, but that it is an issue throughout in Maine.
“Just like anybody else, (I) just have to look at what’s working in the district, and unfortunately … evaluate programs to see what’s best for kids, and make those tough decisions,” he said.
The 39-year-old is married and has two children. He was born in New Jersey and grew up in the Skowhegan area.
“I’m looking forward to (the job), and working with the people affiliated with RSU 1,” Manuel said.
Shuttleworth, who ran School Union 47 before RSU 1 was formed, said in a press release Monday that the Camden-Rockport area attracted him with its location, commitment to schools and his desire to oversee fewer schools.
“I have three schools in my new district, all high-performing, and it will be a lot of fun jumping into new territory,” he stated. “I have loved this work in RSU No. 1, have given all that I could possibly give and it is now time for new leadership, a new direction for this district under a new superintendent.”
While he contemplated taking a different direction and exploring other interests after announcing his retirement last December, Shuttleworth on Tuesday said that “after reflections on that, I’m just not really ready to give up my work with kids. … I need a few more years of that to do.”
His tenure included the creation of RSU 1, and he helped bring about universal pre-kindergarten and an expansion of offerings at the vocational center. He also received approval for construction of a new school in Woolwich, created the Help a Kid program and found strategies to boost the graduate rate at Morse High School.
“It’s time for someone else to pick up where we are and move on,” Shuttleworth said.
Topsham resident Patrick Manuel will become superintendent of Regional School Unit 1 on July 1.