AUGUSTA — Cony High School Principal James Anastasio was named interim superintendent, and Special Education Director Donna Madore assistant superintendent, by the Board of Education Monday.

Superintendent Cornelia Brown is leaving the district Dec. 31 to become executive director of Maine School Management Association.

School officials have not been able to find a replacement for Brown, so they instead agreed to hire an interim while they continue their search.

Anastasio will take over for Brown for a year, the board agreed Monday.

Anastasio said he may also be interested in the job on a long-term basis, and said the time as interim will provide both the school system, and him, with the time and experience to see if he is a good fit.

“It’s a unique opportunity for both the district and myself,” Anastasio said.

He said his primary intent in seeking the interim post was to help the school system transition as Brown, who is in her 14th year as superintendent, leaves at the end of the year.

Anastasio, who lives in Gardiner, has been principal at Cony since 2005. Cony High is also the system’s middle school, and thus educates students from grades seven to 12.

Susan Campbell, chairwoman of the board, said in her recommendation to hire Anastasio as interim superintendent that as Cony principal he successfully transitioned to a new class schedule, oversaw the move of middle school students to the Cony campus, oversaw the accreditation process, improved climate for students and teachers, improved relations between administrators and the teachers’ union and empowered faculty and staff.

No public comment was allowed on the hiring, since it was a personnel decision.

Board members took just 15 minutes to approve Anastasio, 7-1.

Larry Ringrose, the lone dissenting vote, said he supports Anastasio there wasn’t adequate public notice, or a chance for input, before the meeting. The meeting agenda was released late Friday.

“This isn’t a vote against Jim as a candidate, it’s a vote on how we communicate with our constituents and our staff,” Ringrose said. “One business day notice isn’t enough for something that is this big for the district.”

Ringrose’s motion to table the decision until the board’s next regular meeting, Wednesday, Dec. 12, failed to get a second.

Campbell said the search for a new superintendent was a long, intense process that involved administrators, staff, residents and city officials. She said Anastasio and Madore are a team with the qualities those groups were seeking.

Anastasio will be paid $104,000 for the year. The contract, as did Brown’s previous contract with the school system, stipulates he will be provided an all-wheel-drive vehicle.

Anastasio said he will enroll in a University of Southern Maine program to get a superintendent’s certificate. He has a certificate now that allows him to be superintendent for a year.

Board members also voted 7-1 to hire Madore as assistant superintendent, a new position created in place of the former curriculum coordinator position. Her contract will pay an annual salary of $96,000.

Madore has worked for the system for 30 years, most recently as district-wide special education director.

Campbell has said an Augusta City Charter requirement that the superintendent of schools live in Augusta was an obstacle to attracting candidates and a major reason the system wasn’t able to draw someone with the qualities they wanted to apply for the job.

She said the board will work with city officials on a proposed charter change to remove the residency requirement, before seeking to fill the superintendent’s position for the long term.

Anastasio will only be superintendent, and not continue as Cony’s principal, starting Jan. 1. He said an interim principal will be needed at Cony.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647
kedwards@centralmaine.com