AUGUSTA — The question of whether the superintendent of schools should continue to be required to live in the city is up for discussion by city councilors Thursday and could go to voters in November.

The city charter requires the school superintendent to live in Augusta.

In January, the Augusta Board of Education asked city councilors to put a proposed charter amendment removing the superintendent residency requirement on the November election ballot.

School board members have said requiring the superintendent to live in the city greatly limited the pool of candidates who applied for the then-open superintendent’s position when former Superintendent Cornelia Brown left last year. The board received only a handful of applications. Susan Campbell, board chairwoman, said board members heard of multiple candidates who were interested in the job but didn’t apply because of the requirement to move to Augusta. Officials noted some of the would-be candidates didn’t want to relocate their families for the job.

As a result, they asked the council to ask voters to remove the superintendent residency requirement from the charter.

Superintendent James Anastasio said superintendents’ average stay in one job nationally is only 18 months, though in Maine the average tenure is longer — about three years.

“With their average stay of three years, there is a reluctance on the part of (superintendent candidates) to uproot their family and move,” Anastasio said Tuesday.

The requirements are rare for superintendents. Anastasio, who lives in Gardiner, said only three Maine communities require school superintendents to live in the municipality where their schools are located.

He was hired initially in 2013 as an interim superintendent through June 2015. However, in May the school board voted to extend his contract until 2018 and remove the “interim” designation July 1, 2015, giving him the job of superintendent through 2018.

Anastasio said if the charter doesn’t change, he’ll have to become a resident of Augusta later. He said he’s been keeping an eye on the real estate market in the area, but he remains a resident of Gardiner.

Councilors on Thursday also are scheduled to discuss a proposal to demolish six buildings the city acquired for nonpayment of taxes.

All of the buildings, according to Matt Nazar, development director, and Bob LaBreck, facilities manager, are in a condition deemed by the city codes and facilities staff to be structurally unsafe, unlikely to survive a significant weather event or even winter, or so badly maintained they need to be demolished as soon as possible to remove health and safety hazards to the public.

The buildings, and the cost to demolish each, include a two-story single family home at 18 Greenlief St., $8,240; a two-story former warehouse at 36 Maple St., $32,960; another building at 36 Maple St., which already has collapsed, $29,870; a single-story garage on the end of Penobscot Street, $2,575; a two-story single-family home and a one-car garage at 4 Chase Ave., $6,695; and a two-story home at 13 North St., $8,240.

The total cost to demolish all the structures is estimated at $128,580, including the anticipated cost of removing asbestos. City Manager William Bridgeo said he recommends the cost of demolishing the buildings be covered from the city’s fund balance account, which generally consists of money unspent in previous years and used to pay for unanticipated expenses.

Councilors meet in council chambers at Augusta City Center at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. Councilors also are scheduled to discuss:

• traffic flow on Green Street;

• a request for a Tax Increment Financing tax break to assist the Augusta Housing Authority in its proposal to convert the vacant city-owned former Hodgkins Middle School building into housing for low-income senior citizens; and

• updating the city’s employee policy manual.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj


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