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School Board Inauguration Ceremony Dec. 5

The Portland Board of Public Education will hold a ceremony on Monday, Dec. 5, to inaugurate its newest members. The board also is expected to formally vote to approve Emily Figdor to be Board chair again for the coming year and Sarah Lentz to be vice chair. Board members unanimously selected Figdor and Lentz for those roles in an informal vote taken at a caucus Nov. 15.

To be sworn in at the 4 p.m. ceremony in room 200 of Casco Bay High School will be newly elected District 3 Board member Julianne Opperman and two Board members who were re-elected in the Nov. 8 election: at-large representatives Benjamin Grant and Sarah Lentz. Grant and Lentz were first elected to the Board this past June to fill unexpired terms, and were reelected earlier this month to new three-year terms.

Opperman won after besting Board member Adam Burk, the Board’s current vice chair, and another challenger, Samuel Rosenthal, in a contest for the District 3 seat.

Also sworn in will be five student representatives to the Board: Jo Ellis, representing Casco Bay High School; Yonuela Francisco, representing Portland Adult Education; Caden Hemond, representing Portland High School; Dany McLaughlin, representing the Portland Arts & Technology High School (PATHS); and Natalie Santiago, representing Deering High School.

This will be the third year in a row that Figdor, who represents District 2, will serve as Board chair. At the caucus, when District 1 Board member Micky Bondo nominated Figdor to become chair again, Bondo said it’s important that the Board have consistent leadership as it hires a new superintendent. The Board is in the process of selecting a replacement for Xavier Botana, who will step down at the end of this 2022-2023 school year. Figdor is co-chair of the Superintendent Search Committee.

At the caucus, Lentz was nominated to be vice chair by District 4 Board member Aura Russell-Bedder, who described Lentz as “a strong communicator and collaborator” who as a new Board member has already shown leadership as a member of the Superintendent Search Committee. “The work she does is with a strong equity lens,” Russell-Bedder said.

The ceremony will be a hybrid event. The public is invited to attend in person or virtually via Zoom.

WHAT: Portland Board of Public Education holds an Inauguration Ceremony to elect a chair and vice chair and inaugurate newly elected members

WHEN/WHERE:  Monday, Dec. 5, room 200 at Casco Bay High School. The hybrid ceremony can be attended in person or virtually via Zoom. The Zoom link is: HTTPS://US06WEB.ZOOM.US/J/95716748991? PWD=TZB2TGQWAVRDDFJASWXLVNIRR2LZDZ09

WEBINAR ID: 957 1674 8991

PASSCODE: 497744

The Portland Public Schools is Maine’s largest school district, with approximately 6,500 students, and is also the most diverse. About one-third of the district’s students come from homes where languages other than English are spoken—a total of more than 50 languages. 51 percent of the district’s students are white and 49 percent are students of color. Approximately half of PPS students qualify for free or reduced-price school meals.