Scarborough School Superintendent Sandy Prince announced his retirement this week, effective June 2021. FILE

SCARBOROUGH — Scarborough School Superintendent Sanford “Sandy” Prince IV has announced he is retiring — again.

Prince, 63, had just retired in June 2019 after 16 years as superintendent of RSU 14, based in Windham, when he took up the superintendent’s post in Scarborough. He announced at the school board’s Dec. 3 meeting that he will be leaving the Scarborough position as of June 30, 2021.

“It worked out for two years, and it’s great,” he said this week.

Prince took over for Julie Kukenberger, who left in June 2019 amid controversy and a divided community. She first drew fire over school budget discussions and supporting revised school start times and proficiency-based education. High-profile clashes with former Scarborough High School Principal David Creech led to Creech’s resignation and a vote of no confidence in both Kukenberger and the school board by the Scarborough Education Association. A successful petition to recall three school board members who did not plan to remove Kukenberger followed in May 2018.

Prince said he was well aware of the anger surrounding the superintendent’s office when he took over, but he took the approach of leaving the controversy in the past and focusing on the future.

“When I came here, I just tried to take the high road and move forward,” he said.

This week, School Board Chairperson April Sither credited Prince’s professionalism and attitude with helping the district and the town to heal.

“Sandy’s just calm and kind, and has the demeanor to bring people together,” she said.

Prince said the far bigger challenge was shepherding the district through the coronavirus pandemic this year. He said despite lengthy discussions and disagreements over the finer details, he was pleased overall with the hybrid plan of in-school instruction and remote learning that the district is now using to cope with COVID-19.

“I think we’ve made improvements along the way,” he said. “I think overall people have been very happy.”

A Cape Elizabeth native and the son of a teacher and insurance salesman, Prince graduated from Cape Elizabeth High School in 1976, earned a bachelor of science degree in elementary education from the University of Maine at Farmington, and a Master of Science degree, professional teacher/exceptionality at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham in 1983.

Prince’s career spans more than 40 years, dating back to 1980, when he worked for a year as a K-4 special education teacher at Spurwink School in Portland. He also worked as a special education teacher in the Windham school department before moving on to administrative roles in 1988, first as principal at the White Rock Elementary School and Kindergarten Center in Gorham, then at Charles C. Shaw Middle School in Gorham and Harrison Lyseth Elementary School in Portland. He worked from 2001-2003 as the assistant director of educational planning at the Portland School Department before taking the RSU 14 position in Windham in 2003.

Prince said after he had technically retired, he became aware that Scarborough was looking for a new superintendent and couldn’t resist applying.

“I saw it as an opportunity to try and make a difference,” he said.

With Prince stepping down from Scarborough, Sither said the board is expected to form an interview community by mid-March 2021. The committee, she said, will be made up of faculty, students, school board members and members of the community. She said she doesn’t know how large it will be, but the committee that interviewed Prince had 15 members.

Sither said the pandemic will provide some logistical challenges, and the board will likely have to conduct some meetings and interviews virtually.

“It’s certainly a different time for us to be doing a search like this,” she said.

But, she added, the pandemic is not permanent, so she said it was unlikely that skills for managing a district amid lockdowns and remote learning challenges will be any more important than more traditional criteria for selecting a superintendent will be.

“We’re looking beyond the pandemic,” she said.

Prince now lives in Gorham with his wife, Susan, who is a special education director at Harpswell Academy School. Despite working on the administrative level for 32 years, Prince said he still loves teaching, conducting education classes at the University of New England and the University of Southern Maine. Now, following his second retirement, Prince said he plans to keep serving as an intermittent instructor.

“I’ve always missed teaching, but I feel like I’m making an impact by teaching others,” he said.

As to whether Prince would apply for yet another superintendent’s job, he said, “You never know what comes your way.”

Sean Murphy 780-9094

Email: [email protected]

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