BAR HARBOR, Maine — Elected school officials on Mount Desert Island made it official Thursday: Howard Colter can remove the word “interim” from his title as superintendent of the island’s school system.

Colter has been serving as interim superintendent of the island’s school system, which serves the towns on MDI plus Cranberry Isles, Frenchboro, Swans Island and Trenton, since previous superintendent Rob Liebow departed at the end of the 2011-2012 academic year to take a school superintendent job in Rockport, Mass.

Trenton resident Judy Sproule, chairman of the AOS 91 board, said Friday that the board voted unanimously Thursday night to sign a three-year contract with Colter that will pay him $120,000 for the first year. She said annual compensation for the second and third years of his contract have not yet been set, which is standard procedure for the system’s administrative staff.

“We typically [set those amounts] each year,” Sproule said.

Sproule said that as interim superintendent, Colter’s workload has been limited to only 80 percent of a full-time superintendent’s responsibilities. His contract as MDI’s full-time superintendent begins on July 1, she said.

Colter could not be contacted Friday for comment.

Colter previously served as superintendent of schools on MDI for 12 years, from 1992 to 2004, when he left for a superintendent’s job in New Hampshire.

Colter is succeeding the man who succeeded him. Liebow, then the principal at MDI High School, became superintendent when Colter left for New Hampshire nine years ago.

Colter accepted the interim job on MDI a year ago, after he already had decided to retire and to move with his wife back to MDI, where they retained ownership of their house in the Mount Desert village of Hall Quarry.

Sproule said Colter’s professional experience, both on and off MDI, made him a natural choice for being the school system’s next full-time superintendent. He is student-centric, she said, and has a good working relationship with the towns that comprise the system.

His familiarity with MDI schools “is definitely a plus,” Sproule said. “He knows us. He knows our communities. He knows our values.

“We realized we probably have one of the best superintendents in the state,” she added.

Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....