CORNVILLE — The executive director of the state’s first charter elementary school, the Cornville Regional Charter School, will resign from the position as soon as the school’s board of directors can hire a replacement.

Justin Belanger has been executive director since the school’s inception in 2012 and was one of a small group of parents to found the school in 2011.

In his announcement Monday, he didn’t give a reason for his departure and wouldn’t respond to a request for comment.

He was quoted in a news release from the school’s board of directors as saying, “There is never a perfect time to step away, but knowing that I have hired the most capable and best team to fulfill the mission and vision of school is what is allowing me to make this necessary decision.”

He continued, “We started from nothing and now we have a thriving and successful school that is impacting students each and every day.”

The board of directors executive director committee, which oversees the work of and goals of the executive director, met Monday night to discuss plans for hiring a new executive director, including the potential of splitting the job into two part-time jobs with one focused on financial and business operations and the other focused on school administration.

Earlier Monday, in the release, Jean Walker, chairwoman of the school’s board of directors, said, “Justin began this journey six years ago when he and a group of teachers, parents and community members came together to create the ideal learning experience.

“When the school first opened its doors, he never intended to be as actively involved or assume the role or responsibilities that he ended up taking on.”

The school was the first elementary charter school to be approved in the state and opened in the fall of 2012 around the same time that the state’s first charter high school, the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences, opened in Fairfield.

Belanger oversaw the school’s growth from about 60 students to 120 and the addition of two new grade levels, spearheaded fundraising efforts and helped to expand educational programming, according to the release.

Belanger will continue to serve in the role of executive director until the board has found a replacement, according to the release.

“We are greatly disappointed in Justin’s decision, but at the same time we need to be supportive because he has built this school and provided us with a strong foundation,” the release said.

Bob Kautz, executive director of the Maine Charter School Commission, which oversees the state’s seven charter schools, declined to comment Monday on Belanger’s resignation.

In the commission’s 2014-2015 annual review of the school, a commission review team wrote that the school administration “celebrated much success” in the 2014-2015 school year.

“Most of these accomplishments stem from the strong working relationship between the executive director and the principal,” the report said.

“Teachers report being excited about the direction of the school and its positive administration,” it said. “They appreciated being able to work with the executive director and the principal to develop the school schedule so that students can work together in dynamic groups in a multitude of areas both academic and social.”

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm


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