The superintendent of Millinocket schools resigned on Wednesday morning, following a monthslong dispute with town officials that has left the school department without a budget a little more than a month before the start of a new school year.
Dr. Joshua McNaughton, who has been on the job for a year, said he had taken a new position and would step down on Aug. 5. He cited a long commute and his desire to work closer to home as his reasons for resigning.
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“I have accepted a position close to home with a schedule that will be more conducive to family life,” McNaughton said in an email to the Bangor Daily News. “It is going to give me a chance to be more involved with my children’s activities and not spend three hours a day driving to and from work.”
The school board contacted the Maine School Management Association about starting the search for a new superintendent and will hold a special meeting soon, chair Warren Steward said.
McNaughton had served as superintendent since last July, when he took over from Frank Boynton, who had served since 2014.
McNaughton is also the director of special education for the school department. He had previously served as the principal and assistant principal of Millinocket’s Granite Street School and as principal of Whitefield Elementary School in Lincoln County before coming to Millinocket.
Town officials accused McNaughton last fall of violating state law by withholding access to bank accounts containing $630,000 in scholarship and fundraising money.
Those accounts are now under the town treasurer’s control, but further challenges over the school department’s inability to pass a school budget persisted.
The school board approved a budget proposal in late May, but voted to rescind it at a meeting in June where two members resigned after members of the teachers’ union accused them of a “disturbing lack of trust” in McNaughton’s leadership.
McNaughton said he has been unable to bring a complete budget proposal to the school board because the town barred him access to the school’s general fund account, which town councilors refuted.
The budget conflict came to a head at an emotional town council meeting earlier this month, where the Town Council apologized for its role in the dispute and vowed to cooperate with the school department going forward.