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Staff & Community Newsletter - March 7, 2024


DISTRICT NEWS

Proposed FY25 Budget Centers Students, Invests in Schools and Is Aligned to the District’s Emerging Strategic Plan

 Superintendent Ryan Scallon presented his recommended $161 million school budget proposal for the 2024-2025 school year to the Portland Board of Public Education this past Tuesday. The theme of the Portland Public Schools FY25 budget is “Centering Students,” summarizing the essential priority of this budget.

The budget addresses significant fiscal challenges with strategic reductions and restructuring. It would raise the school portion of the property tax rate by 6.85%, adding about $191 (approximately $16 per month) to the annual tax bill of the median-priced home ($375,000) in Portland. This tax rate increase is significantly below the 17.41% that would be necessary to replace all the $19.4 million in lost revenue and increasing expenses that the district faces.

As the superintendent has been sharing with the Board and the Portland community for several months, fiscal year 25 (FY25) is shaping up to be a very difficult budget year, with unique fiscal challenges such as the loss of about $9.4 million in federal COVID relief funds, relatively flat state funding and increasing expenses. Scallon explained to the Board that the recommended budget required some painful trade-offs to address those challenges, but that the reductions in the budget have been made as far away from students as possible.

However, he said, “This budget is not just about cuts. It includes strategic investments to enhance student mental health, and maintains or increases enrichment programs, such as art, music, gym, library, environmental literacy and foreign language. It also retains our current number of multilingual teachers and maintains sports and extracurricular programs, which are key to motivating many students to keep working hard in school and achieve their goals. In other words, this FY25 budget is centered on our students.”

The FY25 budget proposal is aligned with the district’s emerging strategic plan and marks the first time that the district has presented a comprehensive budget of all revenues and expenses. The $161 million budget consists of a local budget of $153.3 million and an additional $7.7 million in additional funds, such as grants and federal Title I funding.

The Portland Public Schools community is encouraged to stay engaged and involved in the budget process. Please read on for information on how to do that. We value your input!

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PPS 10th STEM Expo Kicks Off March 22

This year marks the Portland Public Schools 10th Annual STEM Expo, which PPS puts on each year in partnership with EnviroLogix.

The STEM Expo features exhibits put on by PPS students, local businesses, postsecondary schools and other organizations. It’s a way to showcase the STEM learning occurring in Portland Public Schools’ classrooms. The Expo also expands students’ STEM knowledge and exposes them to exciting career opportunities in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.The STEM Expo will look different in 2024.

Read More about PPS 10th STEM Expo Kicks Off March 22
Student Work on Display for Youth Art Month

Creative artwork from Portland Public Schools students is included in the Portland Museum of Art’s annual Youth Art Month exhibition showcasing the incredible talent of art education programs across Maine. Youth Art Month, a collaboration of the PMA with the Maine Art Education Association that takes place each year in March, also is an opportunity to highlight art educators and the importance of and access to quality art programs.

Read More about Student Work on Display for Youth Art Month
How Sweet It Was!

Peaks Island Elementary School students held their 4th Annual Love Parade on Feb. 14 to spread joy to senior center residents and their community. Thank you to Peaks parent Cara Dolan, who captured some of the Love Parade participants in these photos.

Read More about How Sweet It Was!
BE HERE For a Strong Finish to the School Year!

Students: March 8 marks the end of the second trimester, meaning that we’re two thirds of the way through the school year. For a strong finish to the school year in June, BE HERE in school every day! You will get many positives – not just success in academic subjects but you’ll feel part of the school community and you’ll  grow your curiosity, creativity and sense of responsibility. 

Read More about BE HERE For a Strong Finish to the School Year!
Community Helps Talbot Community School celebrate Read Across America Day

Guest readers were invited from the community to read in classrooms. 

Readers included Talbot principal, Terry Young, retired Talbot teacher, Jen Rogers, Community School Coordinator, Kristin Rogers,Riverton library branch manager, Meghan Gilliss, Riverton Park Community Policing coordinator, Johanna Rozzi, CPort Credit Union president and CFO, Gene Ardito and Kelsey Marquis and Slugger and Rylee Day from the Portland Seadogs.

Read More about Community Helps Talbot Community School celebrate Read Across America Day

PPS IN THE PRESS

Portland Press Herald, Feb. 21, 2024: CBHS Principal Stepping Down in June

Casco Bay High School’s beloved Principal Derek Pierce announced last month that he will step down at the end of this school year as leader of the school he founded and shaped over the past 19 years. Pierce, 57, told the Portland Press Herald that the decision was not an easy one.

Read More about Portland Press Herald, Feb. 21, 2024: CBHS Principal Stepping Down in June (opens in new window/tab)
Portland Press Herald, Feb. 20, 2024: Cooperative Girls' Swim Team State Champs!

The RamDogs, the cooperative girls swim team of Deering/Portland high schools (which also includes students from Casco Bay High School and Baxter Academy) won the Class A girls’ swimming and diving state championship on Feb. 20. A hearty Baah-Woof! to these outstanding athletes! Read the Portland Press Herald story from that date:

Read More about Portland Press Herald, Feb. 20, 2024: Cooperative Girls' Swim Team State Champs! (opens in new window/tab)
Portland Press Herald, Feb. 20, 2024: 2021 law required African American studies in Maine schools. A new bill would strengthen it.

A 2021 law requires African American studies in Maine schools, and legislators this year are considering updating the law to ensure compliance and provide resources in all K-12 schools. The Portland Public Schools is a leader in developing an African American studies curriculum. This Feb. 20 Portland Press Herald features a class taught at Portland High School.

Read More about Portland Press Herald, Feb. 20, 2024: 2021 law required African American studies in Maine schools. A new bill would strengthen it. (opens in new window/tab)
WCSH NewsCenter Channel 6 TV, Feb. 29, 2024: Black History Month wellness fair discusses mental health, community need for resources

Cross Cultural Community Services hosted its annual Black History Month Community Wellness Fair in Portland in February. A TV story featured social worker Blanca Santiago, who has spent many years serving PPS students, speaking about the progress Maine and Portland have made in providing mental health services to people of color and kids who come to Maine with their parents as either economic refugees, or fleeing oppression. 

Read More about WCSH NewsCenter Channel 6 TV, Feb. 29, 2024: Black History Month wellness fair discusses mental health, community need for resources (opens in new window/tab)

RECOGNITIONS


EVENTS & OPPORTUNITIES

Educators: Register for InnovatED: Igniting Innovation in Education

The Maine Department of Education DOE’s MOOSE and Interdisciplinary Instruction teams are hosting a FREE virtual workshop day with John Spencer, Katie Novak, and Lynn Cuccaro on March 28th. This day-long workshop features morning keynotes from all three speakers and your choice of a two-hour afternoon breakout session with either John, Katie, or Lynn.

Read More about Educators: Register for InnovatED: Igniting Innovation in Education

Upcoming Events

Pre-K Acceptance Communication
March 8, 2024

Rock Around the World
April 26, 2024
7-11PM