MADISON — The School Administrative District 59 board of directors appointed two principals Tuesday night, the latest changes in leadership in the single-town school district.

Jessica Ward, a science teacher at Madison Area Memorial High School, was appointed principal of that school; and Ryan Arnold, an eighth-grade mathematics teacher and dean of students at Madison Junior High School, was appointed teaching principal at that school.

Both appointments were approved 5-1, with board member Bob Hagopian opposing the appointments, saying he didn’t think a teaching principal would work at the middle school.

The appointments follow the board’s decision last month to name Bonnie Levesque, the former principal of both the junior high and the high school, to the role of interim superintendent.

Meanwhile, the district is also in discussion with Anson-based School Administrative District 74 over the possibility of future administrative collaboration and is meeting with members of that board next week, said Bruce Thebarge, chairman of the SAD 59 board.

“We’ll be talking with them about the possibility of one superintendent for both districts and how that could work, whether it would work,” Thebarge said. “I think it could work and is a possibility to save tens of thousands of dollars per district.”


Levesque took over as a part-time interim superintendent on July 1 after the resignation of former superintendent Todd LeRoy, who cited differences with the board about “leadership style” in announcing his resignation in March.

Levesque will make $78,500. The board had budgeted $114,750 this year for LeRoy’s salary as a full-time superintendent. LeRoy also is scheduled to continue working as a consultant for the district through September.

There will be no net change in cost associated with the overall changes going on in the district, according to Thebarge.

Arnold, who will be a teaching principal, will teach part time and be in charge of the junior high building as principal. He said at Tuesday’s meeting that he also taught three classes last year in addition to filling in for Levesque when she was working at the high school.

“We have an exceptional staff here,” Arnold said. “I really think it worked last year because the staff here were understanding.”

Hagopian, who voted against the two principal appointments, said he had been unaware of a recommendation that came from Levesque about the principal appointments and did not support the idea of a teaching principal.


“I’m not going to go for a building of 190 students with a (teaching) principal,” Hagopian said. “It’s not going to work.”

Levesque, 66, of Farmington, said Tuesday that she is excited to take over as superintendent of the Madison district after having worked in the town for 11 years as a principal.

She began her teaching career in 1973 as a third-grade teacher in the Mt. Blue Regional School District. She taught at Mt. Blue Middle School for 18 years and served for five years as the athletic director at Mt. Blue High School.

“It’s kind of nice. I started out teaching third grade, and to go out as a superintendent, it’s kind of the top of my career,” Levesque said. “I’m excited about it. I have a lot of time and energy that I’ve devoted to this community and the schools and the kids, and I’m excited to continue to see good things happen.”

Tuesday night the board also approved the addition of a seventh-grade teacher at the junior high school, something that Levesque called “critical” given that there are 48 students in the incoming seventh grade class and currently just two teachers.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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