2017-06-16 / Front Page

Facilities director hired for RSU 21

By Wm. Duke Harrington Staff Writer

KENNEBUNK — From a field of more than 50 applicants, RSU 21 has selected its choice for a new “enhanced” facilities director.

Robert S. Pearson will begin work July 17 at a base salary of $90,000. That’s a 73 percent increase over the previous job holder, Bill Simpson, who resigned, according to Superintendent Katie Hawes, “to take a position as a facilities manager in Portland for a church / community center he is involved in.”

However, the increase is due to a decision to craft an “enhancement” to the job description for the post, Hawes said Monday in an emailed reply to follow-up questions from the Post about the district’s June 9 press release announcing the new hire.

“The position has been a point of discussion among the administration and board since the building projects passed,” Hawes said, referring to the $56.5 million approved by voters in June 2015 to rehabilitate four district school buildings. Work is not complete at Kennebunkport Consolidated School and the Mildred L. Day Elementary School in Arundel, and is expected to wrap up at Kennebunk High School in late 2018.

“This year, we discussed it at many human resources and facilities committee meetings, as well as during the budget process,” Hawes said. “We have very advanced HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) and utilities systems in the new buildings, especially the high school. We want to make sure the systems are taken care of and running as efficiently as possible. We also recognize the significant investment this community has made in approving these building projects and have committed to taking care of our facilities. This position will provide the leadership and expertise to fulfill that commitment.”

Hawes said the increase in pay for Pearson is actually revenue neutral. Simpson was paid $52,000 per year, she said, and the additional $38,000 for Pearson was found by reducing the line item in the RSU’s 2017-2018 budget for contracted services from $138,000 to $100,000. That reduction was made possible, Hawes said, because Pearson is a certified engineer in his own right, meaning much of the building and system maintenance work previously bid out to third parties can now be done in house.

“As we will not need to contract for as many services with an engineer on site, it was not a monetary increase,” Hawes said.

Pearson earned a bachelor’s degree in marine systems engineering from Maine Maritime Academy and a master’s in business administration from the University of Phoenix. Since 2014 he has worked for the U.S. Navy as general manager of its Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) East team, where he leads a team of 105 personnel in the classroom education and practical application of survival skills at Navy survival schools in Kittery and Rangeley on a $6.5 million annual budget.

His relevant building maintenance experience includes developing and managing capital improvement plans for the $12.5 million, 34,000-square-foot Navy education center in Kittery, as well as $11.5 million in infrastructure on the 13,000-acre site in Rangeley. He also was responsible for strategic vision development, short- and long-range planning, and oversight of operations, training, financial performance, as well as management of the SERE East program.

Before taking the survival school post, Pearson served from 2010 to 2014 as operations director aboard the aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise aircraft carrier, were he also served as commander of its patrol and reconnaissance group, according to his LinkedIn social media profile.

In its press release, the school district also touts Pearson’s Navy leadership of a 165-person security team, and a 175-person team tasked with launch and recovery of carrier-based aircraft, as well as management and testing of a $90 million technology integration program.

“We were impressed with Rob’s leadership skills and technical education.” Hawes said. “The school board is committed to maintaining our six schools in excellent condition and Rob will be a key contributor to this effort.”

RSU 21 received 48 applications plus three “confidential inquiries” for the upgraded facilities director job. Those resumes were vetted by KHS Assistant Principal Jason Sullivan, RSU Business Manager Bruce Rudolph and Arundel resident Jack Reetz, a former school board member and longtime education booster. The three scored all applications and selected 10 candidates for telephone interviews. From that group of hopefuls, three were chosen for in-person interviews before a six person selection committee that included Alyce Swan, Niki Rubuo and Dawn Pooler, in addition to Reetz, Rudolph, and Sullivan. All three were “degreed engineers with significant management experience,” Hawes said. All three were then put through a second-round of interviews with three-person executive team that included Hawes, Rudolph, and outgoing MLD Principal Kevin Crowley, who will remain as co-coordinator with Rudolph of the RSU’s building renovation project through completion of the KHS rebuild.

Pearson lives in Scarborough with his wife Shannon and their five children where he runs Beech Ridge Farm on Beech Ridge Road.

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