HALLOWELL — Schools Superintendent Tonya Arnold has resigned halfway through a planned eight-week paid leave of absence, officials said Friday.

Tonya Arnold, superintendent of Regional School Unit 2 which serves Dresden, Farmingdale, Hallowell, Monmouth and Richmond, alerted staff she is leaving. Contributed photo

News of her resignation came Friday morning after Board Chairperson Jonathan Hamann shared the news on an unofficial Regional School Unit 2 Facebook page and cited Arnold’s reason for leaving as “health-related.” Her resignation was accepted at Thursday night’s school board meeting in a closed executive session, per policy when discussing contracts. 

“She expressed gratitude for the opportunity to serve the students, staff and families of RSU 2, and the board is truly appreciative of that service,” Hamann wrote in the Facebook post. “We wish her a speedy and full recovery.”

Before taking her leave of absence at the start of January, Arnold’s superintendent contract was scheduled to run from July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2023, and she was paid an annual salary of $134,000. In a note to staff announcing she would be on paid leave until March 6, Arnold wrote that “sometimes people lash out at others, irrationally, making assumptions, turning those into judgments and actions without asking questions.”

“This is not a good feeling; leading back to respectful communication helps,” she wrote at the time.” When that negative energy comes your way, it does not define you.”

Arnold could not be immediately reached for comment Friday. She had previously declined to comment further on her leave.


Per her contract, her employment “may be terminated upon mutual agreement of the parties at any time,” or by written notice by the superintendent, 120 days (about four months) of notice in advance. 

Matt Gilbert, the newly hired assistant superintendent and chief academic officer, was serving as the interim superintendent and will serve as the acting superintendent, effective immediately.

Newly hired RSU 2 Assistant Superintendent Matt Gilbert appears remotely during a special Board of Directors meeting in September. Gilbert will serve as the acting superintendent, effective immediately. Zoom screenshot

According to Gilbert, he will continue to be paid $106,000 for the 2021-22 academic year, the salary he was hired with. 

“In just four months, he has become a trusted and valued member of the RSU 2 team,” Hamann wrote of Gilbert in the Facebook post. “We hope you will continue to support him as he takes on these added responsibilities.” 

Gilbert said the conditions of Arnold’s contract, now that she has resigned, are “between Mrs. Arnold and the board of directors” and said he “hopes she has a healthier future.”

Arnold’s first year with the district was for the 2020-21 school year and her contract was renewed for the 2021-22 school year in March, even during the same time that the RSU 2 teacher’s union said it had “lost patience” with Arnold over her leadership. Arnold had previously said — without providing evidence — in an email to staff that 85% of the district’s COVID-19 cases were because of teachers and staff. 

In addition to being the superintendent of RSU 2, Arnold has served as the superintendent of Monhegan Island School, a one-room schoolhouse off the coast of Boothbay Harbor, where she made $20,948 last year.

When asked this week if Arnold is still the superintendent there, school committee Chairperson Jessica Stevens declined to comment, but said “we love our school and love our superintendent.” 

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