BAR HARBOR — Marc Gousse, superintendent of the Mount Desert Island Regional School System since July 2016, has told the school system board he plans to retire effective Jan. 1, 2022.
But he said he would stay on through June 2022 if the board wants him to.
“It is very important to me that I provide the board ample time to navigate the search process for my successor,” he said in a letter to the board on Tuesday in which he announced his plan to retire. “I believe my retirement notice will provide adequate time over the next 15 months to ensure a smooth and effective transition of leadership takes place.”
Gousse, who is 60, told the Islander on Tuesday that he will be retiring strictly for personal reasons.
“Two weeks ago, my daughter-in-law’s father passed away at age 62,” he said. “And I’ve had some other losses recently.
“For 40 years I have put schools and other people first; my family hasn’t always been the priority. And it’s now time for me to focus squarely on my family and my health.”
Gousse said he is not looking to take another job in education.
“I hit the lottery when I had the opportunity to come to MDI,” he said. “It’s been the pinnacle of my career. I have been blessed.
“So, I’m not chasing something; I’m not running from something. I’m moving to something.”
Gousse said in his letter to the school board, “Ever since I was a boy, I’ve always loved getting up every morning and going to school. I have never gone to work – I’ve always gone to school. It’s who I am. And I have been blessed to do what I love.
“But my career and achievements have, as they do for all of us, come with significant personal sacrifice. My family has helped me realize the time has come for me to retire from my career as an educator.”
But Gousse told the board he has no intention of slowing down before he leaves the superintendent’s office.
“Given the myriad important initiatives and issues at hand, my focus, energy, dedication and commitment to this district – its students, staff, parents and community members – will remain steadfast and unwavering. If anything, I fully intend to close out my career by giving you every last ounce of energy and leadership.”
Heather Jones, who chairs the school system board, told the Islander, “First and foremost, I am really pleased that Marc is going to take care of himself and his family.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed working with him. He is a great communicator. And he has been a very good advocate for students and teachers.”
Jones said that when Gousse was being considered for the superintendent’s job five years ago, “I thought, here is a person who knows how to be a part of a team, who cares about students, teachers, his administration colleagues and his staff, but also has the ability to say, ‘This is what we have to do.’ I was really excited for him to be a part of this district.”
Asked if Gousse will be a hard act to follow, Jones said, “I do think so. Our school board has some really high expectations, and we have directions we would like to see our district go in. Hopefully, we can get someone who can assist us in moving forward.”
Born and raised in Lewiston, Gousse graduated from Maine Maritime Academy and has a doctorate in educational leadership from California Coast University. He served 23 years in the U.S. Navy and Naval Reserve. He was superintendent of schools in Westbrook prior to coming to MDI, and before that he was principal of Westbrook High School.
He began his career in education as a classroom teacher. He has taught physics, astronomy, meteorology, marine science, environmental studies, geology and biology. He also has been an assistant athletic director and a varsity soccer and track coach.
His current salary as superintendent is $147,331. He has declined a raise the last two years.