SCARBOROUGH — The School Board is soliciting the community’s help in the search for the next superintendent of schools.

Superintendent Julie Kukenberger announced in November that she would step down when her contract expires in June.

The board has scheduled public forums, conducted an online survey, and is asking people interested in participating in candidate interviews to contact Chairwoman Leanna Kazilionis or administrative assistant Kelly Johnston. 

As the service organization for both the Maine School Boards Association and the Maine School Superintendents Association, the Maine School Management Association is also aiding the district in its search.

MSMA Executive Director Steve Bailey led a Feb. 11 public forum attended by about 18 board and community members.

The online survey, which closed Feb. 15, asked participants to answer five questions, including what areas of expertise and personal qualities are most important in the next superintendent and what are the biggest challenges facing Scarborough schools. 

According to Bailey, the survey attracted about 300 responses – about 50 percent from parents, 25 percent staff and 25 percent other community members.

The closing date to express interest in the Interview Committee is Feb. 28. All who serve must be available March 7 and 21 from 5-7 p.m. for two-hour workshops to review and plan the interview process, and on March 30 for first-round interviews.

The subcommittee is so far comprised of Kazilionis, board Vice Chairman Nick Gill and Finance Chairwoman Sarah Leighton.

“We are still working through the final number (we’ll have on the subcommittee), but we will have representation from teachers, staff, students and community members,” Kazilionis said Feb. 14.

Bailey said he’s seen committees of as many as 14-16 members for searches of this importance. 

The job opening was posted Jan. 25 and the board has received several responses so far, according to Bailey. Kazilionis said she couldn’t say exactly how many applicants there have been. Applications will be accepted through Feb. 25, with the hope of having a candidate selected in May and able to start July 1. 

Kukenberger was hired as superintendent in April 2016 after serving as an assistant superintendent in Haverhill, Massachusetts.

Her resignation followed several months of community acrimony – much of it focused on her role in the resignation of popular former Scarborough High School Principal David Creech last February – the recall of three sitting board members and the election of five new board members – four of whom were endorsed by a local group called Road to Renewal that sought to have Kukenberger fired. 

Under state law, the board would have been required to act on her contract last December. If the board had decided not to extend the contract, which pays a salary of just under $148,000 for the current school year, it would have expired.

Instead, Kukenberger took the future of her contract into her own hands. 

In a Nov. 15, 2018, statement to the board, she said missing from talks of a contract extension was the question of if she would even want to extend her employment.

“I would be remiss not to mention the contention that has gone into this School Board election and the recall this past spring. One of the issues that has been repeatedly raised is my contract,” Kukenberger said. “… Given the challenges this board faces and the need to focus 100 (percent) of their time on doing what is right for our children, I want to take this issue off the table.”

Jocelyn Van Saun can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 183 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @JocelynVanSaun.

The Scarboroough Board of Education hopes to have a replacement for Superintendent Julie Kukenberger set to start July 1.