AUGUSTA — It could be four more years for James Anastasio as the leader of Augusta Public Schools.
The school board on Wednesday extended the interim superintendent’s contract until 2018, but whether he remains in the job that long could depend on the outcome of a charter amendent referendum expected to be on the ballot in November.
Anastasio’s previous contract gave him the job of interim superintendent through June 2015, and that remains unchanged. The new agreement removes the interim designation on July 1, 2015, and gives him the job of superintendent through June 2018.
Anastasio said the new agreement provides him some certainty about the future and allows him to make plans, and school board Chairwoman Susan Campbell said it does the same for the board and the rest of the district.
“We now have a permanent superintendent, and we can begin to move the district forward,” Campbell said.
If voters don’t amend the city charter to remove a residency requirement, it will apply to Anastasio once he becomes the permanent superintendent.
Augusta’s city charter requires the school superintendent to live in Augusta within six months of starting the job. Anastasio lives in Gardiner.
School board members said that requirement stymied their last search for a superintendent, in late 2012, because prospective candidates did not want to relocate.
They gave Anastasio a two-year contract as interim superintendent last year to give them time to seek a change in the charter and search for a permanent superintendent.
Earlier this year, the school board asked the City Council to put the charter amendment on the ballot in November. City councilors have expressed support for making the change, and City Manager William Bridgeo said he expects them to take it up in late June.
In the meantime, the school board decided not to wait for the outcome.
“The board has been very happy with Jim’s performance, really happy to have him on board,” Campbell said.
Anastasio said he’s “ecstatic” about having the new agreement in place.
“It really feels good to know that the board has shown the faith and confidence in my ability to lead the district in a good direction,” he said. “I’m ecstatic that they’ve put their faith in me.”
If the residency requirement remains in the charter, Anastasio said he’ll consider moving to Augusta to keep the job.
The agreement was approved at a special meeting of the school board on Wednesday at the Capital Area Technical Center. There was no public discussion of the agreement following the board’s deliberations in executive session.
All board members present except at-large member Larry Ringrose voted “yes.” Ringrose abstained after his motion to table the vote was not seconded.
Ringrose said his objection was not about the terms of the contract or Anastasio’s leadership; he thought the vote should take place at a regular board meeting rather than a special meeting. Wednesday’s meeting was scheduled last week so the school board could make final adjustments to its budget before the City Council was due to vote on it Thursday.
Earlier in the special meeting, Ringrose had voted against approval of two student trips for the same reason. He had made motions to table those votes to the next regular meeting, but those also were not seconded.
“There’s a concern that we do things behind closed doors,” Ringrose said. “The reason why people have that concern is we tend to do things behind closed doors and not do things at our regularly scheduled meetings.”