SAD 55 educator to become South Portland High School principal

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SOUTH PORTLAND — The School Board approved a new principal for the high school Monday night.

During the 90-minute meeting at City Hall, the board heard options for a new wave of computers for students and teachers, and rebuked efforts by Mayor Tom Blake to have City Councilor Al Livingston reappointed to the School Department high school building committee.

With School Board member Rick Matthews absent, the board voted 6-0 to appoint Ryan Caron, currently principal of Sacopee Valley High School in Hiram, to the South Portland post beginning July 1.

The current principal, James Holland, announced his resignation on Feb. 8, effective June 30.

Before the vote, Caron, 36, said he is looking forward to working in South Portland because of its “greater resources (and) the opportunity to pursue my vision for education in an environment where there is more student choice and a history of progressive education choices.”

Superintendent of Schools Suzanne Godin said Caron, a Gorham resident, maintains emphasis on 21st century learning and has reduced dropout rates at Sacopee Valley. The school, with about 400 students, is part of School Administrative District 55, serving Baldwin, Cornish, Hiram, Parsonsfield and Porter.

Godin said references provided by Caron said had a good, but demanding rapport with students.

“He pushes them to do what is necessary to succeed,” she said.

Caron will work in a probationary status for two years and earn $99,000 in his first year.

Assistant Superintendent Kathy Germani said the search to replace Holland began in earnest March 1, when the School Department leadership team met to assess what qualities would be needed in a new principal.
Eventually, two committees of 15 people, including parents, students and school staff interviewed 26 candidates. Five finalists were selected, but one withdrew. The remaining four were interviewed by one committee drawn from the original two.

“(Caron) answered all of our questions and people were excited about the process,” Germani said.


The Maine Department of Education has not decided what will replace laptop computers now leased to individual school districts as part of the Maine Learning Technology Initiative. But Technology Director Andrew Wallace said he is confident Apple will get the contract and endorsed a mix of more than 900 iPads and laptops for use by high school students and teachers.

“I have no strong reservations about what the kids can do with an iPad,” Wallace said.

If Apple continues to be the state vendor, Wallace said there are three likely options for the high school, with four-year lease agreements costing between $800,000 and $1 million.

School Department Finance Director Rafe Forland said there is $794,000 in a reserve account to pay for new machines. Wallace said he expects state education officials to decide on a bid later this month, which would possibly allow School Board members to vote on an option to supply devices at their May 13 meeting.

Committee appointment

The silence following Chairman Rick Carter’s request for a motion to reappoint Livingston to the building committee emphasized the School Board’s desire not to have Livingston rejoin the committee he was removed from in 2011.
Blake asked the board to consider Livingston’s City Council nomination, made in December in conjunction with the nomination of Councilor Melissa Linscott. Livingston, a School Board member before his election to the council in 2010, was removed from the committee in 2011 by then-Mayor Rosemarie De Angelis and School Board Chairman Ralph Baxter Jr.
Blake said the lack of discussion by the School Board on Livingston’s nomination violated two provisions of School Board policies.
“It is an insult to entire council, Livingston and the public who put Livingston in office,” Blake said.
Carter took exception to the accusation of ethical lapses or secrecy in not voting on Livingston’s nomination.

“I have carried out my duties in an open and honest manner,” Carter said.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

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Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.