Maine School Administrative District 75’s school board chairperson decided not to step down amid frustrations over political divisions in the district. The decision saves the district from yet another leadership change amid repeated resignations by superintendents and school board members in recent years.

“I have decided to remain as chair; beyond this, I have no real comments other than to say that coming together for a common cause is often fraught with difficulties and we all have an important say in its outcome,” Wright said Friday afternoon. “Our children need a positive outcome, and we all have different ideas about what we want to see those to be. But it must include all of our children no matter who they are.”

During the Thursday night school board meeting, dozens of residents voiced their concerns about the school board and a perceived lack of “civility” and “hidden political agendas.”

A week before the meeting, word spread throughout the district that Wright was intending to resign from his position as chair on March 9, writing in an email, “In my efforts to bring us together as a working team, I have seemingly divided, I will be stepping down as chair, as of our next regular meeting.”

Frustrations have been building on the board in recent months, as some community members and parents’ rights groups have butted heads over politics in the district and its schools. That culminated with Superintendent Steve Connolly announcing last month that he would resign. Connolly was the district’s fifth superintendent in the past four years.

At Thursday’s meeting, most community members who spoke pleaded with Wright to stay on as chairperson. They complimented him on his work in the district as a board member, as an athletic coach and as a community volunteer.


“Frank exudes patience. Frank doesn’t give up on anyone, even if they have given up on themselves,” said Kara Douglas of Harpswell.

Some criticized the board and the curriculum at SAD 75, which includes Topsham, Bowdoin, Bowdoinham and Harpswell, claiming students weren’t learning what they needed and as a result were testing poorly in literacy and math when compared to the rest of the state.

Chris Vonderweidt of Bowdoinham disagreed and said he was impressed by the educators and staff at Bowdoinham Community School in particular. He praised Wright for “being honest about the political issues on the board.”

Craig Caffrey of Bowdoinham didn’t share the majority’s opinion and accused Wright of being the “ringleader” of the recent political “circus” and asked him to resign.

Andy Reilly told Wright to “fake it till you make it” for the sake of the district. Reilly said if both the superintendent and school board chairperson resign at the same time, it will repel future applicants and make it harder to fill leadership roles in the district.

Connolly replaced Interim Superintendent Robert Lucy this year. Lucy stepped in for former Superintendent Shawn Chabot, who was hired in 2019 but officially resigned in June 2021, after his deployment with the National Guard was extended. Dan Chuta was the interim superintendent for a few months before leaving in February 2019 to become Maine’s deputy education commissioner. Chuta replaced former Superintendent Brad Smith, who held the position from 2011-2018.

Connolly’s resignation coincided with the recent resignation of Nancy Chandler, who held one of Topsham’s seats on the school board. She resigned nine months shy of the end of her three-year term.

Kimberly Pacelli was appointed by the Topsham Select Board to take over Chandler’s seat until June at a February Select Board meeting. Two other candidates interviewed for the open Topsham seat last month, Jennifer Bannis and Annalyse Sarvinas. Bannis congratulated Pacelli on her victory at the March 9 meeting and said she felt confident in Pacelli’s abilities.

Sarvinas said the media treated her unfairly in the articles leading up to the Select Board’s vote, calling it “an assassination of her character.” Sarvinas and her husband are both members of Parents’ Rights in Education, a conservative organization that encourages parents to be active in local boards and resist liberal ideologies on school boards, according to its Facebook posts. The group also advocates for banning books from school libraries that it deems controversial.

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