FARMINGTON — Chris Elkington joined the board of directors Tuesday evening for his first meeting as superintendent of Regional School Unit 9.

He takes over from interim superintendent Monique Poulin, who was appointed in December 2020 to serve until June 30, 2021. She has returned to her position as principal of Mt. Blue High School.

The board chose Elkington by a unanimous vote in May. He started the job July 1, coming to the district after serving as superintendent of Maine School Union 76 in Deer Isle.

During his report, Elkington discussed difficulties the district has faced in filling vacant positions as it continues receiving resignations.

“Our administrators are working very hard in a very tough market to find replacements,” he said. “Putting in double time to try and find the best people as quickly as they can.”

He said the district has interviewed candidates who have interviews with multiple districts in one day, so the hiring process has been very competitive.

Elkington received praise as board members and others welcomed him.

“I want to give a welcome and shoutout to Chris Elkington,” Curriculum Coordinator Laura Columbia said. “I think he’s had a great transition. He’s hit the ground running, listening, solving problems and being a great, positive presence in our district.”

The board also welcomed new directors and selected their leaders. Directors elected Carol Coles of Starks as chairwoman. She had no opposition.

Debbie Smith of Weld was chosen vice chairwoman after an informal election between her and Director Jesse Sillanpaa. While voting, multiple directors explained that they chose Smith for her experience in education.

In other business, the board did a first read of a new policy on a drug-free workplace. Sillanpaa raised concerns about a part of the policy that puts the responsibility on the employee to report they have a drug problem, rather than conducting testing.

If we want a drug-free workplace we should be having a testing pool,” Sillanpaa said.

“It’s my impression that there are legal or contractual issues that prevent that,” Director J. Wayne Kinney said.

Columbia said they used a template for the policy provided by the district’s hired law firm and as a result she is “hesitant about major changes, and if there are major changes … we probably have to have it reviewed by a lawyer.”

The board approved a motion to move the policy to a second reading at the next board meeting. In the meantime, the policy can be edited.

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