ROCKLAND, Maine — The Regional School Unit 13 board elected a new chairwoman and vice chairman Thursday night as members acknowledged they have become divided over the past few weeks during their search for a new superintendent.

Esther “Tess” Kilgour of Rockland was elected to serve as chairwoman for the next 12 months. Loren Andrews of Cushing was elected vice chairman.

The votes, however, were split nearly evenly. Kilgour was elected 7-5 over Andrews. Andrews was elected 8-4 as vice chairman over Arvilla Collins of Thomaston.

“The last few meetings have been dysfunctional,” Dr. Eric Schenk of South Thomaston said.

Board member Sally Carleton of Owls Head echoed those comments.

“The last few meetings have been less than desirable,” Carleton said.

The board has been wrestling with the hiring of a new superintendent. The board has interviewed three candidates and agreed Tuesday night to interview a fourth person. The date for that meeting has not yet been announced.

Board member Carol Bachofner of Rockland voiced support for Kilgour, saying she has the experience, has been the vice chairwoman of the board, and she has the time to commit to the job.

Board member Brian Messing of Rockland said he has not liked how some of the executive sessions have transpired but that Kilgour has had the ability to redirect the board.

Collins said she has seen tremendous growth in Kilgour during the past year.

Schenk said since the first moment he has been on the board he has seen how Andrews has worked to bring the two districts (SADs 5 and 50) together as the combined RSU 13. He said Andrews has the unique skills to bring the board together.

Andrews said he loved the job of being on the school board and he wants to help the district as it turns a major corner.

Kilgour promised upon her election Thursday night that she would work to bring the board together and for the district and its students to move forward.

“We’re going places and I want to go along,” she said.

She first was elected to the SAD 5 board in 2006.

Kilgour’s term as a board member expires in November. Andrews’ term as a board member runs through March 2015.

Kilgour received the votes of herself, Robishaw, Messing, Bachofner, Collins, Darryl Sanborn of Thomaston and Sherman Hoyt of St. George. Andrews received the votes of himself, Carleton, Schenk, William Pearce of Rockland and George Emery of St. George.

Kilgour succeeds Greg Hamlin of Thomaston, who did not seek re-election but was elected to the Thomaston Board of Selectmen.