WESTBROOK – Westbrook High School Principal Marc Gousse has accepted an offer to become superintendent of the city’s school district, pending the negotiation of a contract.
The School Committee made the offer Wednesday after an interview with Gousse, who has been interim superintendent since March. It was the only interview the committee conducted for the job.
No other members of the district’s staff applied during an in-house search. After the interview Wednesday, the School Committee decided that a regional or national search for a new superintendent wasn’t necessary.
“We decided we had the best candidate,” said School Committee member Suzanne Salisbury.
Salisbury pointed to Gousse’s leadership during the district’s recent budget crisis as evidence of his capability. “He had to balance a budget that wasn’t his, and that’s a huge task,” she said.
Gousse stepped in as interim superintendent after the resignation of Reza Namin, who held the position for two years. Namin left to take a job as superintendent of the Spencer-East Brookfield School District in central Massachusetts.
Westbrook’s school district was facing a $3.7 million shortfall and considering laying off as many as 80 employees when Namin resigned. After two packed public hearings, the School Committee cut about $3 million from the budget, which caused 19 layoffs.
Residents approved the $30.7 million budget by 2-1 ratio last week.
“It was the best job interview anyone could have ever hoped for,” Gousse said Wednesday.
Gousse, 51, said he has been working toward becoming a superintendent for the past few years and, last fall, was a finalist for the position in Lewiston, his hometown.
He said he’s “ecstatic” to be superintendent of Westbrook schools. “This is my community,” said Gousse, who has lived in Westbrook for the past eight years.
Gousse, a former naval commander, is a graduate of Maine Maritime Academy and worked as a merchant mariner before becoming an educator.
He started his career as a science teacher, first at the middle school in Sabattus and later at Edward Little High School in Auburn.
He was the assistant principal at Edward Little for five years before being hired as principal of Westbrook High School in 2001.
Gousse has a master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of Southern Maine and is working toward a doctorate in educational administration from California Coast University, which offers online degree programs.
Salisbury said the School Committee plans to formulate a contract to offer Gousse by the end of this week. The board will vote on that contract next week.
At a meeting Wednesday night, the School Committee approved a three-year contract with the district’s teachers’ union.
Under the agreement, teachers will receive no raise or step increases in the first year, a 1.5 percent raise along with step increases in the second year, and a 2.5 percent raise with step increases in the third year.
Gousse commended the union and School Committee members for reaching the agreement, saying it will enable them to focus instead on educating students.
“This is good for the teachers, it’s good for the district and it’s good for the kids,” he said.
Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at: