News Feature

Originally published in The Weekly Packet, February 2, 2023
Sedgwick principal to step down
Politics takes its toll

Carla Magoon

Sedgwick Elementary School Principal Carla Magoon, shown in a 2019 photo, is resigning from her post at the end of the 2022-2023 school year.

Penobscot Bay Press file photo

by Jack Beaudoin

Sedgwick—Sedgwick Elementary School Principal Carla Magoon has submitted her resignation, effective at the end of this school year, citing a rising tide of politicization in local school administration.

“I think it’s just the environment—everything is so political,” said Magoon, who informed the Sedgwick school board of her decision at a budget workshop on January 26. “We have contentious school board meetings over little things. Every decision made is political, and it’s just too much.”

Magoon alluded to the January 9 school board meeting, where members of the board voted 3-0-2 to open up the school’s basketball practices to the public, overriding the decisions of administrators and the arguments of teachers and student-athletes who attended the meeting.

At the time, Magoon called the new policy unnecessary and uncalled for, and argued that it expressed a distrust of the school’s leaders and faculty.

School Union 76 Superintendent Dan Ross confirmed that Magoon had communicated her intent to resign at the end of the school ear.

“As a matter of public record, Carla has indeed resigned for the end of the school year, and the board accepted her resignation last night, with regret,” he wrote in an email. “More than that is a personnel matter, and I cannot comment further without Carla’s permission.”

School board chair Kelly Samperi did not respond to a request for comment.

Challenging times

A math teacher, Magoon served as a principal at Deer Isle-Stonington Elementary School from 2015 to 2017 before joining Union 76 as a technology director. Over the next year, she served stints as co-principal and then interim principal before getting the nod as the school’s principal for the 2020-2021 school year. She said she had already noticed a change in how schools operated as a result of the pandemic.

“Once COVID-19 hit, every place became like this,” she said of the contentiousness and disputes that have arisen. “I just don’t have the energy for that. Life is too short. If you’re not having fun, if you’re not enjoying your work, then…”

She hopes to return to a teaching role, either as a math teacher or technology director. And Magoon, an Ellsworth resident, expressed sadness about leaving the school.

“I really love this school,” she said. “It’s not because of the school. And it’s not the kids.”

She also praised the staff for their work and professionalism during her tenure, noting the implementation of project-based learning in every classroom. “We have the best staff,” she said. “We set clear goals and we are moving towards them.”

Administrators on the move

Magoon is the third high-profile school administrator to announce plans to retire at the end of the year.

In September, School Union 93 Superintendent Reg Ruhlin said he would not seek a renewal of his contract when it expired in June of 2023. He explained at the time that he found the school union structure too “inefficient” and said he felt as if he were the superintendent for five separate school districts.

And on December 6, George Stevens Academy Head of School Tim Seeley revealed he planned to step down on June 30, 2023. “It is time for me to move on to new things, and for GSA to benefit from new leadership,” Seeley wrote in an open letter to the GSA community, calling his tenure “the high point of his life.”