AUBURN — The School Committee voted unanimously Wednesday night to appoint a veteran educator to the position of superintendent.

Cornelia Brown

Cornelia “Connie” Brown was appointed to a three-year term beginning July 1. The committee did not release her salary. Chairwoman Karen Mathieu said after the meeting that because both parties had not been able to sign the contract, she could not reveal the salary.

Mathieu said Brown impressed a search committee with her experience, “which is something that community forums and completed surveys indicated was important to this community.”

Brown has been an educator for 35 years, 23 of them as superintendent of both large and small districts.

She was superintendent of the Augusta School Department for nearly 14 years and is interim superintendent of the Winthrop School District.

She also has been a classroom teacher, an elementary school principal, a Title 1 director, an assistant superintendent and director of a nonprofit organization.

In addition to experience, she impressed the search committee — made up of teachers, administrators, members of the community and School Committee members — with her “outstanding work ethic and willingness to thoroughly become informed before making decisions,” Mathieu said before the vote Wednesday night.

She said Brown’s knowledge of school budgets, “especially during very fiscally difficult times, was very impressive.”

Brown also has experience in constructing a new school building and the fundraising that goes with it, Mathieu said.

Auburn is in the process of raising money to offset some of the cost of building a new high school.

Brown also impressed the committee with her “strong desire to foster open communication and transparency between the Auburn School Department and the community,” Mathieu said.

She said Brown expressed a desire to support educators “in their quest to help students be the best they can be.”

After the vote, Brown said she was “really proud to be joining such a well-respected learning organization. It’s pretty exciting for me.”

She said she is prepared to work with the School Committee, staff and families on how to bring students back to school “after a decidedly different spring and online learning.”

Schools have been closed since March 16 to slow the spread of the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

The School Committee on Wednesday also voted unanimously to waive the residency requirement to allow Brown to live in Augusta with her husband and daughter.

The new superintendent has a Ph.D. in educational leadership with a concentration in labor relations and is listed as a fact-finder with the Maine Public Employee Labor Relations Board, according to a news release.

“As a passionate supporter of public education, Dr. Brown believes that a well-educated citizenry is the best hope for our democracy,” according to the release.

Brown will replace Superintendent Katy Grondin who has resigned effective June 30.


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