SOUTHWEST HARBOR — As Pemetic Elementary School initiates its pre-school program this fall, there will be an experienced leader at the helm.
Trenton Elementary School Principal Michael Zboray will be taking the place of principal Rhonda Fortin at the Southwest Harbor school, according to Mount Desert Island Regional School System Superintendent Marc Gousse. Trenton began its preschool program in 2018 in partnership with Head Start, which provided about half of the funding for the program.
When the preschool program in Southwest Harbor begins for 4-year-old children this fall, they will attend for half the day and students from Tremont will attend for the other half of the day. Costs for the program will be somewhat split between the two communities with Tremont paying about $5,000 more for transportation expenses.
Gousse noted several employment postings, including those for administrative positions, have been listed internally within the school district. He said the district is working to fill open positions as the upcoming school year approaches.
“Mike has done an exemplary job [at Trenton Elementary School],” Gousse said.
The school has been in the news recently as rising education costs have caused tensions in the Trenton community.
Last winter, the School Evaluation Options Committee (SEOC), established by the Board of Selectmen in 2019 to assess the school’s financial impact on Trenton taxpayers, recommended the school withdraw from AOS 91.
The School Committee and most of the school’s staff opposed the recommendation. A citizen’s petition then led to a referendum article that would have directed the town’s Board of Selectmen and School Committee to form a committee tasked with drafting a withdrawal plan to present to the state Department of Education and Trenton voters for final approval. That measure was rejected by Trenton voters 208 to 121 in May.
Gousse said to his knowledge the withdrawal effort did not influence Zboray’s decision to accept a new position.
“That didn’t come up as an issue with his discussions with me,” Gousse said.
“The opportunity to be at a school that is in the heart of a community, I think that’s something special and I’m really looking forward to making some strong connections with the Southwest Harbor community,” Zboray said of his new role.
He said the withdrawal initiative presented to the Trenton Elementary School did not influence his decision to leave.
“I think every school and community has its challenges, that was one of the things that I had to deal with,” he said.
He said that despite that challenge, the community supported the school.
“In the end, the support had always been there…from the Trenton community and I’m sure that will continue in the future with new leadership.”
Reporter Sarah Hinckley contributed to this story.