George Entwistle III plans to do a lot of listening when he starts work as Scarborough’s school superintendent.

He will hear parents who are happy and not so happy with the schools, students who are successful and those who are struggling, teachers and other school employees, elected officials, the police chief and the town manager. He’ll also invite the community to speak up.

“I will spend multiple hours listening. I think that’s the best way for a new superintendent to start,” he said.

Entwistle will be Scarborough’s superintendent starting July 1. He has been superintendent for nearly two years in Belmont, Mass., but is a familiar face in education in Maine. He was superintendent in Falmouth for five years, assistant superintendent in the Camden area and a member of the Cape Elizabeth School Board.

Entwistle, 57, brings diverse experience to Scarborough. His early career in mental health services included staff training. His later work in human resources included positions at Weyerhaeuser Co., the forestry company, and businesses in Greater Portland. He also taught college courses in psychology, human resources and organizational behavior.

Entwistle has a doctorate in educational leadership from Boston University. His dissertation on “discretionary effort” looked at the connection employees have to their organizations and the extent to which they’re willing to expend extra effort.

After the Board of Education approved his nomination last week, Entwistle said Scarborough was really the only place he would consider in returning to Maine.

Elaborating during a phone interview Wednesday, he said he looks forward to working in a community that’s excited about the potential of its schools. He’s also drawn by the broader needs of students in Scarborough, which is more diverse, socioeconomically, than Falmouth.

Board of Education Chairman Christopher Brownsey noted that Entwistle has a record of increasing community involvement with the schools.

“It will help us engage the community and figure out what the community’s values are and how we carry that out in the schools,” Brownsey said of Entwistle’s hiring. “With the budgets the way they’ve been, we really need to reach out.”

Scarborough faces another year of significant cuts as revenue declines. The $35.6 million budget under consideration for 2011-12 would eliminate nearly two dozen jobs, including more than 12 full-time teaching positions.

Entwistle will lead a smaller district in Scarborough, with about 3,300 students. Belmont has more than 4,000 students and a budget of nearly $40 million.

His transition will come with a pay cut, from $175,000 a year to $132,000.

Beppie Cerf, a former Falmouth School Board member, praised Entwistle’s ability to bring the community together.

He was hired at a time when there was a divide between the school system and the town, she said, and helped to create a sense of “we” from a situation of “us” and “them.”

Entwistle plans to organize a community dialogue in Scarborough, possibly in September, to begin the formation of an 18-month improvement plan tied to everything the district does, including its budgeting. Cerf said that tool was extremely effective in Falmouth, where it helped to generate ideas and get the community engaged.

“It’s exciting. It’s neat,” she said. “Everybody’s idea and everybody’s conversation is warranted.”

Entwistle pulled people together, gave them direction and focus, and helped them achieve peak performance in Belmont, said Ann Rittenburg, chairwoman of the School Committee.

“He’s really added immense value to our district, particularly around building the team and really engineering our district for high performance, high efficiency and greatest return on investment,” she said.

Entwistle has been living in Cambridge, Mass., during the week while his wife, Nancy, has continued living at their home in Cape Elizabeth. He took the job in Massachusetts with the expectation that they would move there, but her job situation didn’t work out.

She is a speech and language pathologist in South Portland. Two of their three children, who are in their 20s, live in Maine.

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at:

[email protected]