FARMINGTON — A Skowhegan Area Middle School teacher will become principal at Mt. Blue Middle School in September after approval Tuesday night by the Regional School Unit 9 board of directors.

Jason Bellerose, who teaches social studies in Skowhegan, was approved by the board after an hourlong executive session at Tuesday night’s meeting.

Bellerose will replace Gary Oswald, who announced in November that he intended to retire at the end of the 2015-2016 school year. Oswald has been at the school for 30 years.

The board’s Administrator Evaluation Committee presented Bellerose as its final recommendation for the position after receiving nine applications and interviewing five of the best candidates for the job, RSU 9 Superintendent Tom Ward said.

The committee was made up of three teachers from the middle school, a special education teacher, Ward and the district’s assistant superintendent, Leanne Condon.

Ward said Bellerose stood out as a collaborative leader with strong experience in middle school education.

Bellerose has taught at the Skowhegan Area Middle School for 16 years, where he has served in a number of teacher leadership positions, which he said has exposed him to the elements of being a principal.

While he has never served in an education administration role, he said it has been a goal.

“I’ve always seen myself in educational leadership,” he said Tuesday night after the board meeting. “I’ve always said that I would like to spend half of my career in a classroom and half of my career in administration. And (this position) was a unique opportunity, and I’m honored to be working here.”

Board members approved an annual salary of $87,500 for Bellerose.

Bellerose graduated from the University of Maine at Farmington in 2000, completing his student teaching practicum within RSU 9.

The board Tuesday also began its review of the preliminary $33.5 million budget for the 2016-2017 school year. The draft budget is about $1.5 million greater than the 2015-2016 budget of $32 million.

The board will be reviewing the budget in similar workshop sessions every Tuesday and Thursday for the next three months, going over requests and proposals line by line with administrators and department heads.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the board reviewed the budget for elementary instruction. At Thursday’s workshop, the board will pick up with secondary instruction, districtwide instruction and bilingual instruction.

Lauren Abbate — 861-9252

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Twitter: @Lauren_M_Abbate