A Cumberland County school district has once again dipped into York County’s pool of top school administrators to lead its system for the next three years.

School Administrative District 51, which represents Cumberland and North Yarmouth, hired Jeff Porter as its new superintendent on Monday.

Porter’s appointment was approved by SAD 51’s board of directors at a meeting Monday night, according to chairwoman Karen Campbell.

Campbell said Porter, who is currently Biddeford’s assistant superintendent of schools, spent an entire day visiting with staff, students and board members and touring schools late last month.

“The feedback we got from staff, students and administration was all positive,” she said.

In October, SAD 51 launched a national search for a new superintendent to replace Robert G. Hasson Jr., who left the district last year to serve as assistant deputy director of the Maine School Management Association and executive director of the Maine School Superintendents Association.

A screening committee reviewed more than 20 applicants, with Porter emerging as the best candidate.

“We were looking for a knowledgeable and creative educational leader who motivates and inspires all students to attain their personal best, an excellent communicator who is visible and approachable,” Campbell said in a press release Monday night.

Sally Loughlin, the district’s director of curriculum, assessment, instruction and professional development, will continue to serve as the interim superintendent until July 1, the day that Porter takes over.

Porter’s hiring represents the second time this year that a Cumberland County school district has raided York County for a school superintendent.

In January, Yarmouth hired Andrew Dolloff, the superintendent of schools for Regional School Unit 21 (Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Arundel).

Porter, who lives in Scarborough, was hired under a three-year contract that will pay him an annual salary of $125,000 while Dolloff, who lives in Gorham, signed a three-year contract that will pay him $127,500 annually. Both men are joining two of Maine’s top-ranked school systems.

According to U.S. News and World Report’s 2013 top school rankings, Yarmouth High School is rated the second best high school in Maine, while Greely High School – SAD 51’s high school – is ranked ninth.

The 43-year-old Porter said the smaller size of the district, his familiarity with the area and SAD 51’s reputation for academic excellence appealed to him.

“I am going to a smaller district and I am originally from Yarmouth,” said Porter, who graduated from Yarmouth High School in 1989.

By September, the district will be situated on one campus. A grades 4-5 elementary school in North Yarmouth will close and send all of its pupils to a newly expanded middle school in Cumberland. The campus also includes Greely High School and a K-3 elementary school.

“I don’t know yet,” Porter said when asked about challenges he will face next year. “But I do feel this district is ready to turn the page. It’s an excellent school district that wants to get better.”

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

dhoey@pressherald.com