SCARBOROUGH — School Superintendent Julie Kukenberger’s job security became more tenuous Tuesday when town voters elected four school board candidates who were endorsed by a group that recently fought to have her fired.

And one of the board’s first duties will be to review Kukenberger’s contract.

From a field of 15 candidates, the top finishers in races for five seats on the seven-member board were Amy Glidden (5,757 votes), Alicia Giftos (4,529 votes), April Sither (4,311), Sarah Leighton (4,085) and Nick Gill (3,875), said Town Clerk Tody Justice.

Only Leighton wasn’t endorsed by the Road to Renewal group, which formed this year amid an unusual public battle between Kukenberger and former Scarborough High School Principal David Creech that has consumed the town for months. Glidden, Giftos and Sither were founding members of the group.

Creech resigned suddenly in February, then said that Kukenberger forced his decision and he asked to keep his job, which the school board declined. Road to Renewal led protests seeking to oust Kukenberger instead of Creech, who left in June and is now interim principal of Winthrop High School.

Sither, Leighton and Gill were among 10 candidates who ran for three standard three-year terms on the school board. Glidden and Giftos each ran for one-year terms that resulted from a recall election in May that was spearheaded by Road to Renewal.

Reached Wednesday afternoon, Kukenberger said she’s looking forward to building relationships with the five new board members and getting back to focusing on the district’s mission.

“There’s a lot of big, important work to do and our kids are counting on us,” Kukenberger said.

A first-time superintendent with just over two years on the job, Kukenberger’s contract expires June 30. State law requires the school board to meet in December to consider extending her contract, which pays a salary of $147,677 for the 2018-19 school year.

Two current members who will remain on the board – Hillory Durgin and Leanne Kazilionis – each have served only one year, so they weren’t on the board that hired Kukenberger in April 2016. The board must have a superintendent – Kukenberger or someone else – under contract by June 30 for the 2019-20 school year.

During the campaign, most of the 15 candidates said they had concerns about Kukenberger’s performance during the past year, but they would withhold judgment on whether to extend her contract until they had full access to information that hasn’t been available to the public. Others offered much stronger criticism.

Sither, a stay-at-home mom and former teacher, said Kukenberger made many errors, calling her implementation of a proficiency-based education model “disastrous.”

“If I had to decide today, I would absolutely not extend her contract,” Sither said before the election. “It’s very difficult for me to imagine a path forward with her as superintendent.”

Gill, an administrator at York County Community College, said Kukenberger is qualified and intelligent, but he questioned whether she was the person who could move the community through the current controversy and renew trust in district leadership.

“Right now I would have to say she’s not,” Gill said, although he allowed for the possibility that a stronger board “could make a big difference” in Kukenberger’s performance.

Giftos, an assistant state attorney general, said she thought Kukenberger influenced the school board in setting its goals and disregarded input from teachers and parents in the rush to make problematic policy changes, including new school start times.

“At this point, I have significant concerns about (Kukenberger’s) leadership and management,” Giftos said. “If I’m elected, I’ll have to go in with an open mind.”

Glidden, an English teacher at Thornton Academy in Saco, said she still had “major concerns about mistakes that were made in the last year,” especially related to a proficiency-based grading system that ignored teachers’ concerns. “If I’m elected, I’ll work with the board to determine the leadership direction of the district.”

Leighton, a data manager who returned to Scarborough last year hoping to run for public office and give back to her hometown, said she didn’t know enough about what went on behind the scenes to make an informed decision about Kukenberger’s contract.

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