WATERVILLE — The Waterville Board of Education will hold a special public meeting Feb. 7 to discuss hiring an assistant superintendent who could move into the top position when Superintendent Eric Haley retires later this year.

“In reality, my time is probably limited as your superintendent, so I’ve been thinking about a transition,” Haley told the board Monday night.

He said Tuesday in a phone interview he hopes to retire this year. A clause in his one-year contract says either the Board of Education or Haley can terminate his contract with a 60-day notice. He has been working on one-year contracts since retiring and returning to work in the district.

Waterville Superintendent Eric Haley, during a 2018 Waterville Board of Education meeting, said he plans to retire later this year and is urging the board to hire an assistant superintendent who could be groomed to succeed him. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel file

Waterville for many years employed an assistant superintendent, the last of which was Peter Thiboutot who now is superintendent of Winslow schools. Thiboutot was assistant superintendent for Alternative Organizational Structure 92, which included Waterville, Winslow and Vassalboro. That structure, whose superintendent was Haley, dissolved in 2018 after nine years and Winslow hired Thiboutot as superintendent. Waterville went back to being Waterville Public Schools with Haley continuing as superintendent, with no assistant.

Haley said many school districts are looking for superintendents and there are not a lot of candidates.

“People that are good are in a pretty solid position, like I have for a long time, and they’re staying there,” he told the board.

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He said an assistant superintendent could be hired with the idea that he or she would be mentored by Haley, Finance Director Paula Pooler and others to become the next superintendent. The school board would make the ultimate decision on hiring. Haley said he would not retire until the person is ready to be superintendent. He gave assurances that he doesn’t have a serious illness prompting him to retire.

“Medically, other than a hip that needs to be replaced, I’m in good shape,” said Haley, who is 67.

Haley said Wednesday that he gets notified by the Maine Superintendents Association whenever superintendent positions are advertised, which is often.

“My plan that I laid out last night was, in order to increase the number of possible candidates for the position, we advertise this as an assistant superintendent position with the intent to be our next superintendent,” he said.

Haley has been working in education 45 years, the last 21 as Waterville’s superintendent. He worked about seven years as a teacher in Dexter before coming to Waterville in 1985 as assistant principal at Waterville Senior High School and was in that position five years. In 1990, he became principal at the high school, a job he held for 10 years. In July 2001 he became superintendent.

Board Chairperson Joan Phillips-Sandy said at Monday’s meeting that she has been telling Haley for more than a year that an assistant superintendent is needed for Waterville schools and having such a position is important.

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“I’ve seen how much Eric works,” she said. “Most people know that he’s often working on Sundays.”

Haley said he checked 13 or 14 Maine school systems the size of Waterville’s and only one — Winslow — doesn’t have an assistant superintendent.

The board discussed how a search would be done, with board member Pam Trinward saying typically a search committee is formed that would include three board members, some administrators, a parent and others, and that panel would come back to the board with the results. The board has the option to accept a recommendation or not, she said.

Board member Greg Bazakas asked Phillips-Sandy to set a special public meeting to work on only the assistant superintendent issue and how the board will proceed in a search.

“I think we should take our time here, slow down, back up, talk, talk to the other districts,” he said.

Board member Maryanne Bernier agreed a public meeting is important. Phillips-Sandy noted that Haley did not guarantee he would continue working for a year and not having an assistant superintendent worries her as things can change and he could leave sooner.

“We don’t have a plan for the district if that happens,” she said.

The special meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Feb. 7 in the media center at Waterville Senior High School.


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