Keith Morin, the principal of Winthrop High School, has accepted a job as the assistant superintendent in Regional School Unit 18, the school district that covers Belgrade, China, Oakland, Rome and Sidney.

Morin, who lives in Waterville, has worked in the Winthrop School Department for nine years, first as an assistant principal in the middle and high schools, then becoming principal of the high school in 2012. Morin, 40, also taught social studies years ago in the Winthrop School Department, while he pursued a graduate degree in education.

“He got a promotion,” said Gary Rosenthal, superintendent of the Winthrop School Department, who expressed his appreciation for Morin’s contributions. “He’s a superb principal. He’s brought a lot of opportunities to the table for his staff … He’s done a fabulous job with a lot of state-mandated programs.”

Morin is proud of the advancements Winthrop High School has made during his tenure, he said during an interview. He called the school district “a gem.” He also praised RSU 18 and said he accepted the new position because his “ambition” has been to move up in the administrative world.

He will be making a salary of $107,750 in RSU 18, said Carl Gartley, the current assistant superintendent of RSU 18. Morin will be taking Gartley’s position in the district, and Gartley is becoming the district’s superintendent next year. In January, the district announced that current Superintendent Gary Smith is retiring.

Morin made about $83,000 as principal of Winthrop High School. The department is now accepting applications for his replacement.

The next few years could be difficult for the Winthrop School Department — and the town in general — as it begins to recover from a financial shortfall, but Morin said the timing of his departure is “not in the very least” related to those difficulties.

The high school has received several accolades during Morin’s years at its helm. In 2014, Newsweek magazine named Winthrop High School the 331st-best school in the nation at preparing students to enter college. It was one of just four Maine schools to make that ranking. Also that year, Winthrop was one of just 28 high schools, out of 153 in the state, to earn a B or higher on the Maine Department of Education’s 2014 report card, which evaluates every school in the state.

Morin said he is proud of those honors. He has also enjoyed watching individual students succeed, whether by earning competitive scholarships, performing in plays or participating in sports. One program he’s particularly proud of is the unified basketball team, on which able-bodied students and students with developmental disabilities can both play.

“I’ve seen a lot of incredible things that I think a lot of principals see,” Morin said.

He credited coworkers who have helped him in his job, including when he was a graduate student teaching in Winthrop. Two mentors from that time, David Poulin and Kate Levesque, are still working in the school department, he said. Before he returned to Winthrop in 2008, Morin also taught at Lawrence High School in Fairfield.

“This is a great community,” he said. “I hope that I have given as much as this community has given me.”

Both Rosenthal and Gartley, Morin’s future supervisor in RSU 18, said they have been impressed by his ability to work with fellow teachers and staff.

As a principal, Morin is able “to get people all working together toward the same goal,” Gartley said. “He’s been very successful at Winthrop High. We checked references of people who were his teachers (and now work in Winthrop). They feel very empowered. They feel like they work with Keith, and are not working for him.”

Next year, Morin’s $83,000 salary in Winthrop was going to increase 2 percent. As the Winthrop School Department seeks a replacement, Rosenthal said it won’t impose a salary cap, so that more experienced candidates won’t be reluctant to consider the position.

The Winthrop School Department’s budget this year is $11.2 million. Next year, school officials were hoping to increase spending by 2 percent, but the Town Council has asked that it make cuts. Though councilors originally asked the department to draft a $10.9 million budget, last week they seemed to soften their stance and asked for the department to draft an $11.19 million budget.

The council made that request after scores of parents and students opposed the proposed cuts to the school department’s programs. The council may vote on the school budget on Monday before sending it to voters on June 13.

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

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Twitter: @ceichacker