BoE’s superintendent pick must work out 120-day notice at 5-school system

Dr. Jeffrey Bearden was selected last week to fill the superintendent’s position with the Fayette County School System. Details to be worked out with the Fayette County Board of Education include Bearden’s start date in January after he fulfills his notice with the Marshwood School District in Eliot, Maine, where he currently serves as superintendent.

Bearden will be coming from a district with five schools and 2,500 students to take over a system with 30 schools and 21,000 students.

Bearden would take the post in January. The Marshwood district, which includes South Berwick and Eliot, is also known as Maine School Administrative District 35. It’s located about 60 miles northeast of Boston, Mass.

He has been with the Marshwood School District since 2007.

The unanimous vote to offer Bearden the position came immediately after the school board returned from executive session Aug. 3. Chairman Terri Smith after the meeting said Bearden would be notified of the board’s decision, adding that she expected to have his answer and a contract ready to be affirmed at the board’s next meeting on Aug. 17.

Bearden was one of three finalists for the position.

Contacted last week, Bearden said he was thrilled to be the finalist for the position. Bearden said he is optimistic that he and the school board will work out the specifications of the contract.

Commenting Monday, Bearden said his current contract in Maine requires that he give a 120-day notice. Bearden said the Fayette BoE was aware of the contract stipulation.

Assuming that contract issues are worked out with Fayette County, Bearden said he will maintain regular communication with acting Superintendent Fred Oliver.

Bearden said he had done a lot of research on the school system, adding that Fayette students achieve at a very high level.

If he accepts the position, Bearden will not be a complete stranger to the Fayette community since his parents moved to Fayette County seven years ago.

On his application for the superintendent’s position Bearden listed his current yearly salary as $128,500.

Former Superintendent Dr. John DeCotis was making over $200,000 a year when he retired from the Fayette system in June.

Bearden has served as superintendent since 2007 and as an Adjunct Professor at Nova Southeastern University in North Miami, Fla. since 2006. Prior to that time he served as Assistant Superintendent for Business in the Maine School Administrative District from 2001-2006. Bearden served as Superintendent in the Limestone School Department from 1999-2001, as Assistant Principal at Presque Isle High School (Maine) from 1996-1999, as District Athletic Administrator and Social Studies teacher from 1992-1996 and, also in the Limestone District, as an Language Arts teacher from 1990-1992 and varsity girls basketball coach from 1984-1992.

Bearden received an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University in 2003 and a M.Ed. in Educational Administration from the University of Maine in 1995. Bearden also holds a B.S. in Secondary Education from the University of Maine. He has published papers on topics such as retaining teachers, employee wellness, tobacco use and learning techniques.

Also in the running for the position were former Fayette County School System administrator Lyn Wenzel and Texas educator Dr. Roy “Cole” Pugh.