NEWPORT — Gregory Potter of Waterville is leaving as superintendent of Whitefield-based Sheepscot Valley Regional School Unit to head Newport-area schools.

The Regional School Unit 19 Board has hired Potter as superintendent to succeed the retiring William P. Braun.

Potter will start July 1 and has worked as superintendent of Sheepscot Valley, also known as  RSU 12, since 2009.

RSU 12 School Board Chairwoman Hilary Holm said the district will miss Potter’s leadership. Potter helped enact a response to intervention program and secure a federal Teacher Incentive Fund grant to increase teacher effectiveness and create performance-based compensation systems, she said.

“His leadership style has included the administration in lots of decisions, and I think that’s strengthened the collaborative nature of our district,” Holm said.

Holm said she will create a search committee soon, but the board will not rush the process of hiring a successor.

“If we can’t find the right one by the time Greg leaves, we will hire an interim,” she said.

Potter was hired by the Newport district at an $118,500 annual salary. He was among 17 applicants.

The new position in Newport is a homecoming of sorts for Potter.

“While attending the University of Maine, my wife and I taught at Nokomis Regional High School in the 1980s,” Potter said. “We liked the atmosphere back then; and for quite a few years, I’ve had my eyes open for a position up there.”

He also was principal at Mount Blue High School in Farmington for six years.

The demographics, population and organizational structure of the two school units are similar, Potter said.

The student population of Sheepscot Valley district is smaller, about 1,700, but both districts have eight towns and the school boards use a weighted vote system.

Sheepscot Valley consists of Alna, Chelsea, Palermo, Somerville, Westport Island, Whitefield, Windsor and Wiscasset.

Newport-based Regional School Unit 19 also includes Corinna, Dixmont, Etna, Hartland, Palmyra, Plymouth and St. Albans.

Potter is a 1983 graduate of Penquis Valley High School in Milo and has family in Sebec and Dover-Foxcroft.

“This works very well for us. It’s a perfect situation for my family and me,” Potter said.

He also spent 23 years in the Army Reserve, retiring as a major, so Potter said the presence of a Junior ROTC program at Nokomis was “another positive factor for me.”

In addition, Nokomis is sixth on the Maine Department of Education’s construction priority list and Newport Elementary School is ranked third.

“I’ve also dealt with construction projects down here,” Potter added.

Braun, who announced his retirement last year after undergoing successful surgery for esophageal cancer, turns 63 this year and has been the district’s superintendent for 18 years.

Braun cited the long hours associated with the job and the desire to spend more time with his family as his major reasons for retiring.

Staff writer Susan McMillan contributed to this story.

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