Lokken approved as Lake Region M.S. principal; SAD 61 board notes

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

He was here, then he suddenly wasn’t.

Now, Matthew Lokken is back.

Lokken was unanimously approved Monday night as the new principal at Lake Region Middle School. He succeeds Tonya Arnold, who resigned last month to accept a principal’s post at a charter school in Fairfield.

The district interviewed four candidates for the LRMS vacancy.

Lokken nearly became a SAD 61 employee back in late March when the school board unanimously approved his nomination as assistant principal, succeeding J.P. Yorkey. There were 30 applicants for the position.

But, Lokken withdrew his name just a few days later, informing SAD 61 officials he was accepting a principal’s job elsewhere. SAD 61 hired Maggie Thornton as LRMS assistant principal on May 4.

Elsewhere was Blue Hill Consolidated, a pre-K to eighth grade with about 250 to 260 students. According to The Weekly Packet, a weekly newspaper, Lokken accepted the principal’s job at Blue Hill Consolidated on March 16. His nomination was approved by the school board on March 11. He assumed the Blue Hill duties on July 1.

Less than two months later, Lokken is back in Naples.

The news stunned Blue Hill residents, as well as the school board and superintendent.

“It was a surprise to me. Did I know he was applying for that job? No,” said Superintendent Mark Hurvitt in The Weekly Packet report.

Fully understanding the difficulty of finding a replacement with the opening of school so near, SAD 61 was willing to be flexible as to Lokken’s start date, SAD 61 Superintendent of Schools Alan Smith and school board chairman Janice Barter said. On Monday’s school board agenda, Lokken’s start date was listed as “effective date to be determined.”

Most school contracts seek a 45- to 60-day notice of leaving a position. But, in most cases, the administrator is eager to start the new job while school officials are equally motivated to find a new leader and install that candidate into the position, as soon as possible, Barter said.

Blue Hill had a “very strong interim candidate” in mind to replace Lokken, and were expected to act Monday night.

And, SAD 61 now has a new administrative team as the 2015–16 school year opens.

Lokken earned his master’s of science degree in Educational Leadership from Saint Joseph’s College in Standish in 2014, and his master’s of education in Curriculum and Instruction from Montana State University in 2009.

Previously, he was an assistant principal of a Pre-K-Grade 8 school in Dover-Foxcroft from 2012–2015. Lokken’s boss was SAD 61’s Superintendent Alan Smith.

Before the search committee, which included administrators and other staff (about 14 to 16 members), started the interview process, Smith informed the group that he had worked with Lokken. Smith encouraged the group to make up their own minds as to whether Lokken was the right candidate for LRMS, and not be influenced by his past relationship with the candidate.

“It’s always a concern when someone you know applies for a position,” Smith said. “I wanted the committee to make up their own minds, and not influence the process.”

The LRMS principal position was advertised.

Prior to moving into administration, Lokken taught chemistry at Kennett High School in North Conway, N.H. (2009–12), biology at Presque Isle H.S. (2008–09) and science at Hot Springs High School in Montana (2007–08).

From 2003-05, Lokken was a lead research assistant at the University of California, Barcroft Station.

In other school board meeting news:

  • Crooked River project: Superintendent Alan Smith handed out schematic drawings of the proposed Crooked River Elementary renovation and construction project. The diagrams will soon be posted on the district’s website, as well as dates of upcoming public meetings at Sebago Elementary, Songo Locks and Stevens Brook Elementary.

Meanwhile, architect Stephen Blatt is busy connecting with SAD 61 administrators regarding their “thoughts and ideas.” His firm will also be touching base with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and local code enforcement regarding elements of the project such as the septic system.

While Superintendent Smith admitted there is still “a lot of work to do,” officials are confident that the project will be ready for public comment and a referendum vote in November.

The plan calls for reopening the facility as a Grade 3–5 school. Renovations and construction of additional space is projected to cost $7 to $9 million. Officials will likely bring a second referendum question to voters regarding addressing the creation of another access point at Songo Locks School.

  • Personnel moves: The school board approved the following personnel nominations:

Eleanor Botka was reappointed as a gifted and talented teacher/coach at Lake Region High School.

Genevieve Foley as a science teacher at Lake Region Middle School, replacing Leah Heyman, who resigned. There were 14 applicants, two were interviewed.

Adam Perron as a science teacher at Lake Region Middle School, replacing Clayton Conrad, who resigned. There were 14 applicants, two were interviewed.

Chelsea Wheeler as a speech/language pathologist at Stevens Brook Elementary School and Sebago Elementary School, replacing Emily Infinger, who resigned. There were two applicants, both were interviewed.

Carla Lutricuso as a special education technician II at Lake Region High School, replacing Donna Vaughn. There were 20 applicants, 12 were interviewed.

Matthew Peaco as a school bus driver, replacing Vicky Crosby, who resigned. He was the lone applicant.

Paula Simonds as a food service technician at LRMS, replacing Karen Coye, who resigned. There were four applicants, one was interviewed.

Nancy Irish as a bookkeeper/secretary at LRHS. There were four applicants, one was interviewed.

Tyler Oren as a special education technician III at LRHS. He left this position in 2014-15 to take a long-term substitute teacher position, and is being rehired for this position.

Angela Gronlund as a K-2 academic support technician at Stevens Brook, replacing Val Buteau. There were five applicants, three were interviewed.

Heidi Dolloff as a special education health care technician at Stevens Brook. This is a new position. She was the lone applicant.

Jennifer Fellows as a standards interventionist at Songo Locks School, replacing Gail Brooks, who resigned.

Ryan Williams was reappointed as an English teacher at LRHS.

Josh Arris as a permanent substitute at LRHS, replacing Erin White. There were two applicants, one was interviewed.

India Bell as an athletic trainer.

Amy Siebert as a seventh grade girls’ soccer coach.

James Gerry as a school bus driver.

Wenda Saunders as school physician for 2015–16 school year.

The board accepted the resignations of Sharon Bickford, a special education technician at LRHS, and Stephanie Couture as an instructional coach at LRMS.


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