Longtime educator appointed to Van Buren schools superintendent post

11 months ago

VAN BUREN, Maine — Karen DuBois began her educational career in the early 1990s as an ed tech in Van Buren. Now, she is the superintendent of that same school. 

The school district, MSAD 24 / RSU 88, serves Cyr Plantation, Hamlin and Van Buren.

DuBois became a sixth grade teacher in the late 1990s. She held that position for approximately seven years, then taught seventh and eighth grade until about 2016. From there, she served as the school’s principal, during which time she obtained master’s and doctorate degrees. 

DuBois was the district’s principal until earlier this week when the school board voted to appoint her as superintendent.

The district’s last superintendent was Jane McCall. In addition to her duties in Van Buren, she also served as assistant superintendent for RSU 39 (Caribou and Stockholm) from 2016 until she was promoted to interim superintendent following former superintendent Tim Doak’s departure earlier this year. 

DuBois said McCall left Van Buren to focus on work as RSU 39’s interim superintendent.

The school board approved DuBois’ appointment and contracted her for a year as superintendent, with a $120,000 annual salary.

DuBois will perform multiple functions, and as a result she said the district will likely save money.

As principal, she also served as the district’s ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act) coordinator, which involved writing and implementing several grants. DuBois will continue to do this work in addition to serving as superintendent. 

She said the grants net the school roughly a quarter of a million dollars annually, and fund things such as teacher salaries and technology replacement.

She will also take over the district’s Career and Technical Education program. 

Clayton Belanger will serve as interim principal in Van Buren until a suitable replacement is found. 

Belanger has several decades of education experience in Van Buren. He worked as the school’s history teacher, principal and superintendent. And though he is now retired, he has filled in multiple positions as needed.

“He’s very knowledgeable,” DuBois said. “He’s a smart man. He’s always been with this place. I can’t imagine MSAD 24 without Clayton Belanger here.”

Belanger served as interim superintendent before DuBois was appointed. DuBois said she will likely depend on his help as she adjusts to the new role.

“I know he’s going to be the person that mentors me this first year,” she said. “He was there when I was principal.”

DuBois said the transition from principal to superintendent feels natural.

“Everything I have done seems to have led me to this point,” she said. “Even though I’ve never been a superintendent, I feel like I know a lot of what I need to do, and that has to do with the fact that when I stepped into the role of principal, I had to work closely with the superintendent.”

She said that while there may be bumps along the way, she’s confident that her peers in Van Buren and beyond will be there to help and support her.

“I’ve got a good network around me, whether they’re at this school or in surrounding schools,” she said. “That’s the thing about The County; they offer up help.”

Correction: An earlier online version of this story misstated one of the RSU 39 towns. They are Caribou and Stockholm.