SOUTHWEST HARBOR — School officials have hired Cathy Lewis of Sorrento to head the Pemetic Elementary School for the 2015-2016 school year.
The school committee voted unanimously Monday to appoint Lewis interim principal of the K-8 school for one year.
According to Howard Colter, superintendent of the Mount Desert Island Regional School System, the decision was made to hire an interim principal after a search to replace Dianne Helprin failed to produce a candidate that school officials felt comfortable hiring.
“The school board said, ‘We haven’t found the right person for the job,’” Colter said.
Colter said he was directed to reopen the search. At about the same time, Lewis came forward saying she would consider an interim position. Praising the track record of the longtime educator, which includes stints as principal of six Maine schools, Colter said he was relieved to find someone willing to step in before school begins.
Lewis’s experience in a variety of educational settings means she can take over the helm of Pemetic with a minimum of adjustment. Just as important, having an interim principal allows school officials to mount a more extensive search for someone permanent, Colter said.
Most administrative jobs in schools are advertised shortly after the first of the year, Colter said. Helprin announced in May that she was leaving to take a job as superintendent of Union 69, sending school officials scrambling to find a replacement. As a result, the pool of candidates was not as large as it might have been, Colter said.
There were 17 applicants, of which seven were chosen for interviews. Two of those seven turned down the offer because they already had been hired for other jobs, Colter said.
Lewis is to be paid $88,776 for the year, the amount approved for the principal in the budget approved at the town’s annual town meeting, Colter said. The school also is to contribute an amount toward Lewis’s existing health insurance plan that is not to exceed $6,000.
Lewis most recently was principal of the Surry Elementary School, a position she held from 2011 through this school year. She has been assistant principal at Sumner Memorial High School and principal of the Beech Hill School, Brewer Primary School, the Peninsula School and the Ella Lewis School. From 2000 to the present, she has been an adjunct instructor in education at the University of Maine in Orono.
She began her career teaching elementary school.