LEWISTON — The Lewiston High School Class of 2019 will be the last to receive its diplomas from Superintendent Bill Webster, who has announced he will retire in a year.

Bill Webster

In a letter Tuesday to School Committee Chairman Francis Gagnon, Webster said his resignation is effective June 30, 2019. He is giving a year’s notice so the board has time to search for a new superintendent.

Webster said he has been “blessed” with living in Lewiston and being the superintendent.

“The quality of committed educators and community members helps ensure that our schools and community will continue to strengthen in the years ahead,” he said.

Webster was hired in November 2010, replacing Leon Levesque.

Webster, 68, said his age is part of his reason for retiring.

“As much as I enjoy my work and enjoy Lewiston, my colleagues and friends,” he said, “I want to make sure I do what I want to do while I’m in good health.”

The School Committee will have a workshop on Monday with Steve Bailey of the Maine School Management Association to start the search of finding a new superintendent.

Webster said in 2010 he decided to apply for Lewiston superintendent in part because he was “excited” by the city’s growing immigrant population. Since 2010 the immigrant population has continued to grow.

His time in Lewiston and interaction with families and students from Somalia and other countries did not disappoint, he said.

“Lewiston has met and exceeded my expectations,” he said. “The city has challenges and tremendous opportunities. We have, collectively as a community, had an impact on students and increasing student success every day.”

Webster said he’s most pleased about how in recent years the district has increased student choice and programs, “whether it be expanding pre-K, expanding alternative educational or providing more opportunity for students to succeed in classrooms.”

In the last five years Webster has had to respond to school enrollment that shot up higher than experts predicted, prompting sudden needs to find more space for students and relieve crowded schools.

In the last two years there have been student tragedies, the deaths of three middle school students, the latest during a June 12 school trip to Range Pond in Poland. An investigation by the school department’s lawyer on what led up to seventh-grader Rayan Issa’s drowing is ongoing.

Webster said he decision to retire has been in the works for weeks and is unrelated to recent events.

“It’s just the right time to pursue other interests that retirement will allow me to pursue.”