GRAY – Superintendent Michael Wood and the SAD 15 school board met in executive session late Wednesday at the end of the board meeting to discuss his pending resignation.

Wood will be released from his contractual obligations with SAD 15 on July 11, he said by telephone following the session.

He notified the board late last month that he was negotiating a contract to head up Nashoba Regional Schools in central Massachusetts where he was named a finalist. At that time he did not tender his resignation.

Wood said he begins his new job on July 14. Earlier this month, School Board Chairman Dan Maguire said the board has authority to negotiate releasing Wood earlier than the 60 days.

Victoria Burns was named interim superintendent for the year to give the district time to find a suitable candidate to lead Gray and New Gloucester’s 2000 students and work with the 11-member school board. She is currently the district’s curriculum coordinator and former principal of Gray-New Gloucester Middle School.

In other business, the district ended the fiscal 2002-03 year with a net year-end balance of $439,631.

Brian McDonnell, director of finance and operations, said all cost centers were well managed despite protracted contract disputes, state funding shortfalls and asbestos problems in schools.

The funds will be distributed in the following ways: planned carry over for fiscal year 2003-04 at $200,000; capital reserve fund of $150,000; additional audit year-end entries of accrued payroll expense of $40,000 and undesignated balance fund of $49,600.

And the board authorized transfers totaling $443,046 to prepare the district for a professional audit. Funds were taken from professional accounts at the high school, middle school, elementary schools and special education accounts in the salaries and benefit lines.

These funds were used to offset salaries for custodial help, drivers, food service, adult education, superintendent office support help, capital projects, and contracted repairs and technical equipment and repairs, for example.

Finally, the board heard a strategy plan to restructure the current food service operation that ended last year with a $50,000 loss.

Three plans offered by Operations Director Brian McDonnell include: business as usual; consolidation with another school unit; and out-sourcing the food service through a controlled contract.

The district’s food service manager recently retired leaving the program up for restructuring, said McDonnell.

Board members said changing anything this summer is premature. Gray member Amy Wilbur said she was not prepared to address the issue without sufficient time to study the problems.

Gray board member Heather Skillings said the district should stay with its current plan this year. “If we make a major move like this, it should be part of the budget, voted by voters,” she said.

Currently three district elementary schools are undergoing restructuring and asbestos remediation projects this summer. Russell and Memorial schools are closed for the work now.

“When school opens, we have to do a lot of scrambling to be sure,” said Gray member Tod Bennett. “The more things we put in the pile, the more stress we will put on staff.”

However, McDonnell hopes to begin a focus group and explore informational bids to out-source the food program.

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