MANCHESTER — Donna Wolfrom, reflecting on the last six years she’s spent as the superintendent for Regional School Unit 38, said the achievements the district has made have not been because of her.

Rather, achievements have been “the result of a team effort with teachers, administrators and the community working toward bringing to life our mission statement of becoming ‘a caring school community dedicated to excellence,'” Wolfrom said.

Wolfrom, 66, was selected by the Cape Elizabeth school board to be that district’s next superintendent, and her three-year contract will begin July 1, after she completes her sixth year as superintendent of the Maranacook Area Schools. Wolfrom will earn $135,000 per year.

Howard Colter is serving as the interim superintendent through the end of this school year.

In an announcement on the school board’s Facebook page, Wolfrom was approved unanimously and the school board sees her “leading Cape Elizabeth Schools in a positive direction, as she has done in RSU 38.”

But Wolfrom’s tenure at RSU 38 hasn’t been free of controversy. The district and longtime teacher Laura Reville were sued by Michelle and Adam Woodford on behalf of their daughter, claiming that Reville put a paper bag over their daughter’s head four times in fall 2015. The Woodfords’ suit claimed the acts done in front of classmates were meant to embarrass or humiliate their daughter, which led to inappropriate conduct and bullying from fellow students.

The Woodfords reached a tentative $95,000 settlement with the Maranacook district and the teacher in August.

Last year, a group of parents expressed outrage about the air quality at Manchester Elementary School after the school nurse reported a strange smell. The parents also were concerned about the communication between them and the district, and Wolfrom didn’t alert the parents about the issue until well after the increased mold spores were discovered.

The district spent more than $105,000 cleaning and remediating several classrooms and areas of the aging school; and this summer, unit ventilators were installed in the rooms that didn’t already have them. Wolfrom said the district followed the plan and recommendations of the air quality testing company and cleaning company, and she said she hasn’t heard any complaints from parents this year.

Wolfrom was born in New Jersey and moved to Maine in 1988. She lives in Monmouth and plans to live in or around Cape Elizabeth during the school week. She previously served as an assistant superintendent in Bangor and worked for 20 years in School Administrative District 55 as a teacher, literacy specialist and curriculum director.

Betty Morrell, the chairwoman of the RSU 38 School Board, said the district will miss Wolfrom and said the district has made a lot of progress during her tenure.

“Donna is a superintendent who holds herself, and others, to high standards,” Morrell said. “Her decisions are based on what is best for children, which is easy to say but harder to consistently do.”

Wolfrom has been instrumental in hiring literacy and mathematics coaches for the district who work with teachers and students, providing direct support to students at every grade level, Morrell said. Working with teachers to improve instruction has led to higher test scores.

“The development of a cohesive curriculum, pre-K through 12, has been a priority,” Morrell said.

Wolfrom said RSU 38 — which includes Manchester, Readfield, Mount Vernon and Wayne — has worked to institute a more rigorous curriculum that aligns with the state adoption of the Common Core in Mathematics and English Language Arts. The district added a director of curriculum, instruction and assessment that has helped focus district work toward this effort.

“We have based our state-mandated proficiency-based diploma on Maine’s standards and have worked as a team to identify priority standards and to develop pacing guides and units that give students the opportunity to meet those standards,” she said. The process resulted in a rigorous curriculum consistent and cohesive between all grade levels, a charge given to Wolfrom when she began leading the district in 2012.

Wolfrom touted the dual enrollment program in partnership with Thomas College as another achievement. Several students in the district have graduated from Maranacook High School and with their associate degree from Thomas at the same time. The program, she said, has saved parents and students thousands of dollars in tuition costs and has given students the chance to see they can be successful in college.

Wolfrom said she thinks the district is well prepared for 2018 and beyond. Plans are underway to begin developing a new strategic plan focusing on the alignment of all initiatives and action steps with the new plan. She predicted the plan would include efforts for strengthen instructional strategies and would continue to support a rigorous, cohesive and consistent curriculum.

“RSU 38 has a strong administrative team whose members are focused on providing an excellent education for our students,” she said.

Morrell said the school board will have detailed discussion during its Jan. 3 meeting about the process of finding a new superintendent. The Maine School Boards Association will give a presentation to begin the discussion and talk about how it can help with the search.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ

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