TREMONT — Pam Bush, principal of the Tremont Consolidated School, has resigned from the position she has held since August 2012.
Bush signed a resignation agreement and release with the Tremont School Committee on Dec. 16. Her resignation is effective Dec. 31.
Howard Colter, superintendent of the Mount Desert Island Regional School System, said this week that Bush did not submit a resignation letter.
“She told me of her wishes in person,” Colter said. “She just got to the point that the stress was too much and thought it best for her health to step down.”
Bush “was not fired” or “asked to step down,” he added.
According to the resignation agreement with the school committee, Bush is to be paid a lump sum of $22,085 minus applicable deductions. The school is to continue paying its share of Bush’s health insurance premium through March 31 or until she becomes eligible for enrollment in another employer’s plan, whichever comes first.
Colter said a resignation agreement between a school committee and an employee is not standard practice in the school system. Most employees resign at the end of a school year. The timing of Bush’s resignation prompted the need for an agreement, he said.
“[Bush’s] leaving mid-year is unusual,” Colter said. The agreement brings closure to her tenure at the school and eliminates any potential disagreements concerning back pay and similar issues, Colter said.
Bush, in turn, is to release and hold harmless the school and its representatives from any complaints, grievances, lawsuits and other legal claims arising from her employment.
Bush most likely won’t be replaced immediately.
On Monday, Colter met with staff at the Tremont school to discuss how to deal with Bush’s “sudden departure.” At this point, there is agreement that two or three of the teachers will perform tasks associated with the principal’s job. Colter also is expected to pitch in. This would make the transition easier for all involved, including the students, the superintendent said.
“Tremont has a very capable group of teachers,” Colter said. “I have confidence in them. I think we can end the year in very good shape.”
Colter said he expects more concrete plans for moving forward to come from a Jan. 7 special school committee meeting.
Bush informed parents of her decision through the school newsletter, which published on Dec. 18. She wrote her last day at the school would be Dec. 23, the day before the holiday break begins.
“I have not told the children about my leaving,” Bush wrote. “I feel the kids should hear this from their parents first.”
Bush explained she would visit each classroom during her final days at the school to answer questions and say good-byes.
“I plan to use this time next week to hang out with the kids, my favorite thing to do, and try my best to make this transition as smooth as possible.”
Before taking the job at Tremont, Bush was assistant principal at Mount Desert Island High School, a position she held for nine years.
Bush’s departure means the MDI school system will be looking to fill the top positions at three of its K-8 schools before the 2016-2017 school year begins. Scott McFarland, principal of the Mount Desert Elementary School, is retiring at the end of the current school year. Dianne Helprin left the principal’s job at the Pemetic Elementary School at the end of June to take a superintendent’s position in the Midcoast area. Cathy Lewis took the reins as interim principal of the Southwest Harbor school.
School officials also will be hiring a replacement for Colter, who is leaving the superintendent’s position in June.