A plan for Winthrop and Fayette schools to use three top Regional School Unit 4 administrators is dead.

RSU 4 Superintendent James Hodgkin, who had initially proposed the arrangement, backed out Friday morning in a short note that punctuated an exchange of e-mails among administrators and Peter Precourt, of Winthrop.

“It was a plan that I was confident could have worked,” RSU 4 Superintendent James Hodgkin said in an e-mail. “After being unfairly judged, I withdraw my offer.”

Precourt peppered Winthrop School Committee members with questions about the arrangement at a board meeting on Wednesday, then sent a mass e-mail detailing what he planned to say at the next board meeting in opposition to the plan.

RSU 4 educates students from Litchfield, Sabattus and Wales.

At Wednesday’s meeting in Winthrop, Precourt sought to ask about Hodgkin’s record at RSU 4 — where Oak Hill High School was rated by the state Department of Education last week as a “persistently low-performing school” — and whether the Winthrop board had done due diligence regarding the shared administrators’ plan.

Winthrop School Board Chairman John Mitchell told Precourt that, if he wanted to discuss a superintendent candidate, it could only be done in the candidate’s presence.

“The reasons (Precourt) was not allowed to present his information was that it was the consensus of the board and (Superintendent Briane Coulthard) that these discussions may lead to conversations about individuals that were not present to explain themselves and place the school in a potentially liable situation,” Mitchell said Monday in an e-mail on behalf of the board.

Mitchell said Precourt was told it would be discussed Monday at an Alternative Organizational Structure 97 board meeting. AOS 97 is the administratrive unit for Winthrop and Fayette schools.

Sharing administrative jobs was presented as a cost-saver. Winthrop schools are looking to bridge a $970,000 gap between revenues and expenses for the upcoming school year.

The Winthrop and Fayette consolidated school district also is seeking a new superintendent. Coulthard, who serves as superintendent and business manager, is retiring.

Hodgkin said he planned to attend Monday’s meeting and hoped to defend the Winthrop board’s decision to end the debate.

“I want to defend the role of school boards in making this type of decision,” he said. “It was the proper way to make decisions.”

Hodgkin also said he had no problem with Precourt, whom he does not know.

“He has every right to do what he did,” Hodgkin said.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

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