The Bonny Eagle school district has formed a search committee to replace Superintendent Paul Penna, who is retiring at the end of the school year.

“Regrettably, Mr. Penna has decided to retire from MSAD 6. His contributions and leadership will be lasting,” Nathan Carlow, school board vice chairperson, told the American Journal. Carlow is chairperson of the search committee.

SAD 6 Superintendent Paul Penna is retiring at the end of the school year. File photo

The school district, one of the largest in Maine, serves the towns of Buxton, Frye Island, Hollis, Limington and Standish and has 3,500 students and 600 employees.

Penna in June told the school board in June of his plan to retire a year later, “providing them with the maximum opportunity to find a replacement,” he said in an email to the newspaper.

The search committee hopes to find Penna’s successor before he leaves, Carlow said.

Formerly principal of Bonny Eagle High School, Penna was named superintendent in March 2017 after serving as an interim superintendent. He succeeded Frank Sherburne, taking the helm in the aftermath of public clamor for Sherburne’s resignation.

In May of 2016, Sherburne accepted a severance offer and resigned amid a controversy involving alleged nepotism in the district’s hiring of Sherburne’s son as an educational technician at Buxton Center Elementary School.

Penna was known to often visit the district’s eight schools.

“Having first met Mr. Penna as a student, and then working with him as an elected school board member, I have always been impressed by his commitment to students,” Carlow said in a statement.

Penna has always fought for kids even in cases where it wasn’t the most popular thing to do, Carlow said.

“Under his administration, he has overseen the implementation of multiple pathways for academic achievement; he’s fostered a positive culture centered around collaboration and streamlining, and he’s built a bedrock of trust between the district and the community it serves by modeling transparency, integrity and professionalism,” Carlow said.

Penna was also the right person to lead the district through the pandemic, Carlow said,  but he doesn’t believe his four-year tenure will be defined by that.

“His contributions predate the coronavirus, and the reforms he has made have laid the groundwork for the district’s future,” Carlow said.

The search committee, made up of SAD 6 school board members, will work with the Maine School Management Association, according to Carlow.

The position will be advertised at the state and national level, and the board “with critical input from stakeholders, fully intends to name Mr. Penna’s successor before he leaves office,” Carlow said.

Our district is doing exciting things, we have a positive culture in our buildings. I think when professionals across the country see the work we’re doing in Bonny Eagle, they’ll be drawn to want to apply,” he said.

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