RSU 9 board Chairwoman Jennifer Zweig-Hebert of Starks, left, stands with current RSU 16 Superintendent Tina Meserve of Livermore. Meserve was hired Thursday night as the new superintendent in the Mt. Blue Regional School District, beginning July 1. (Donna M. Perry/Sun Journal)

FARMINGTON — Regional School Unit 9 directors voted unanimously Thursday to hire Tina Meserve of Livermore as the district’s new superintendent.

She is scheduled to start July 1 at an annual salary of $125,000, plus benefits.

Meserve is currently superintendent of RSU 16 in Poland, Mechanic Falls and Minot. She will replace RSU 9’s current superintendent, Tom Ward, who has announced he is retiring June 30.

Meserve said she is excited to be returning to the place where she was educated and participated in athletics.

“It is the place where I learned many life lessons — perseverance and hard work, winning and losing gracefully, preferably winning over losing gracefully but certainly both,” she said.

“It’s the place that I did my first practicum and also my student teaching. I taught here for one year. My husband, Jeff, is finishing up his 38th year as a teacher here.”

Her husband teaches physical education at Cascade Brook School in Farmington.

“Mr. Ward was my teacher when I was in high school,” Meserve said. “I have changed a lot since that time, but one thing that I will say is the life lessons that I learned in the halls of this school have followed me through my career, and those small moments have led to this moment.

“I am honored to know that I will be able to return to this place and hopefully bring some leadership forward to the next generation of students and staff that serve them so that we can make the same impact on future children that are coming through RSU 9.”

Director Tami Labul of Farmington said after the meeting that the committee was pleased to offer Meserve the job.

“I am very excited to see her help the district grow,” she said.

“She was our first choice,” Director Lidie Robbins of Vienna said.

Meserve has been superintendent of RSU16 since 2013. Prior to that, she was assistant superintendent in that district from 2012 to 2013. Before that, she was curriculum coordinator at the Augusta School Department from 2008 to 2012.

She served as a literacy specialist for kindergarten through grade 12 in MSAD 52 in the Turner area. She was also a kindergarten-second grade teacher and a coach in the district.

Meserve taught kindergarten in RSU 9, then known as MSAD 9, and was a substitute teacher. She also taught second grade in RSU 73, known then as MSAD 36, and was a coach at Livermore Falls High School.

According to Sun Journal archives, in August 2017, an outside consultant hired by the RSU 16 board to investigate complaints about Meserve found no evidence that she acted unprofessionally, according to the board.

Consultant Ann Chapman, who works for the board’s law firm, Drummond Woodsum of Portland, wrote: “After conducting her review, Ms. Chapman has found no evidence that the superintendent’s actions have departed from the law, RSU policies, or board directives. While some individuals have disagreed with decisions Ms. Meserve has made, according to Ms. Chapman there are no credible allegations that she has conducted herself inappropriately or unprofessionally.”

In June 2017, a group of community members told the school board they had no confidence in Meserve. They presented a petition signed by about 100 people asking for an independent committee to look into her performance.  

Chapman’s investigation cleared Meserve of wrongdoing and generated praise for her work as superintendent.

“The review conducted by Ms. Chapman has concluded that not only is Ms. Meserve aware of needs of the district, she works with the board, administrators, directors, teachers, and support staff to continually support student learning, fiscal responsibility, and district operations,” according to the statement.
“The RSU 16 School Board would like to publicly acknowledge our continued strong support of Ms. Meserve as the educational and administrative leader of RSU 16.”

The complaints against Meserve were varied. At least one parent had expressed concerns that staff morale was poor, student bullying was not being addressed and that Meserve cut teachers and programs while earning a salary of $100,000 a year.

Meserve, who has served as superintendent for four years, denied the complaints.

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