BIDDEFORD — Assistant Superintendent of Schools Jeff Porter will soon be saying good-bye to the Biddeford School Department.

On Monday, he learned he was selected as the new superintendent of schools for School Administrative District 51, which includes Cumberland and North Yarmouth.

Porter will begin his new position July 1.

Although he will be sad to leave the faculty and administrators with whom he’s worked over the past seven years, said Porter, he’s ready for a new challenge.

The new position, “will be a great change for me,” said Porter, “I’m looking forward to it.”

Porter began his career in Biddeford in January 2007. His duties as assistant superintendent also include being in charge of curriculum development.

He said he decided several months ago that he wanted to apply for a superintendent position.

“I think you know in a career when you want to do something different,” said Porter.

The assistant superintendent didn’t apply to be head of the district in Biddeford two years ago when former Superintendent Sarah-Jane Poli retired. A large part of the reason he chose not to try for the position, he said, was because of Biddeford’s residency requirement for school superintendents.

Porter lives in Scarborough with his wife Kandace and their two children, both in elementary school, and said he didn’t want to uproot his family.

SAD 51 doesn’t have a residency requirement.

Working in SAD 51 will be a change from Biddeford, he said. It has a smaller population, 1,800 students versus Biddeford’s 2,500, and it’s a consolidated district, which includes students from two communities.

SAD 51 is also a more affluent area than Biddeford. Biddeford receives $800,000 from the federal government in Title I funds, which is based on the student population that is qualified for free or reduced lunch, he said, while SAD 51 only receives between $50,000 and $60,000 in Title I funds.

According to the SAD 51 website, Porter was among a slate of 20 applicants, chosen from a wider pool of candidates, who were reviewed by the district’s screening committee. After the interview process, he was the sole finalist.

Porter’s salary will be $125,000.

“The board developed an ambitious leadership profile of a strong candidate for this position based upon information received from various stakeholders,” said SAD 51 School Board Chairman Karen Campbell, in a statement. “We were looking for a knowledgeable and creative educational leader who motivates and inspires all students to attain their personal best … I am delighted that we were able to attract Jeff Porter, a very talented and experienced educator who possesses all these vital skills and attributes. He is an excellent match for our district.”

“Not having Jeff around will be a loss for Biddeford,” said Biddeford Superintendent of Schools Jeremy Ray.

However, he said, he and other leadership members in the school district knew Porter was interested in becoming a superintendent.

“We’re very supportive of him making this move in his career,” said Ray.

Missing the people he’ll leave behind will be the hardest part of the change, said Porter.

“I’ve really gotten to know a lot of teachers and administrators over seven years,” he said. “It’s going to be difficult to leave that.”

Prior to his arrival in Biddeford, Porter was a principal at Harrison C. Lyseth Elementary School in Portland for about seven years, a principal at Songo Locks-School in Naples for two years, and a teaching principal at Warren Village School in Warren, N.H. for three years.

In SAD 51, Porter succeeds interim Superintendent Sally Loughlin, according to the district’s website. Loughlin had replaced former Superintendent Robert Hasson, who was superintendent at SAD 51 for more than 20 years. He left to take the position of assistant deputy director of the Maine School Management Association and executive director of the Maine School Superintendent Association.

Ray said the Biddeford School Department will hire a replacement for Porter’s position.

— Staff Writer Dina Mendros can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 324 or [email protected]

        Comments are not available on this story.

        filed under: