Staff & Community Newsletter - Nov 23, 2022
Dear Portland Public Schools families and staff,
I am writing to let everyone know that – because of a shortage of school bus drivers – we may sometimes have to cancel one or more of our daily yellow school bus runs for our elementary and middle school students, or possibly adjust school start and end times so that buses can make double runs to serve all schools.
SCHOOL BOARD NEWS
At its Nov. 15 meeting, the Portland Board of Public Education held a caucus to take an informal vote to select new leaders for the coming year. The Board unanimously chose current Board Chair Emily Figdor to lead the Board again and chose at-large Board member Sarah Lentz to be Vice Chair. A formal vote will take place at the Board's Inauguration on Dec. 5.
It’s the time of year to remind everyone about the Portland Public Schools' inclement weather policy and how such decisions get made.This year, bad weather events will be traditional “snow days.” That means our schools will be closed and students will not be expected to go to school in person or learn remotely. Educators will not be expected to work. We will make those days up at the end of the year.
Peaks Island Elementary School closed on Tuesday, Nov. 22, due to a significant number of positive COVID cases, but is expected to reopen following the holiday break.
Fifth-grade students at Talbot Community School recently planted beneficial native plants in their courtyard. These plants will be beautiful to look at and nourishing for many types of wildlife.
The Verizon Foundation has contributed $10,000 for STEM initiatives in Portland elementary schools. For several years, Verizon has supported science curriculum development in the Portland Public Schools, providing funds for staff stipends as well as resources and supplies for student use. This year, Verizon has donated to the Foundation for Portland Public Schools to continue to build out STEM kits for each elementary school library and to contribute to professional development for school staff to attend the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference in the spring.
Thank you, Verizon, for your support!
We are fortunate in Portland to have three great high schools to attend: Casco Bay High School, Deering High School, and Portland High School. Eighth-graders and their families: It’s the time of year to let us know which high school you would like to attend next fall. Learn about our revised preference process and the timeline for you to tell us your preference at the Transitioning to High School page, which is now live on our website.
Please note, the community forum on immersion programming has been moved from December 1st to December 19th and has been broadened to a conversation about the Portland Public Schools World Language Vision. During this forum we will share the district world language vision and ask for input on what families hope to see in terms of world language programming in the district over time. Part of this conversation will include an update on the current immersion program offerings. Interpretation will be available. During small group break-out time we will meet in language groups so that people can discuss and give input in their preferred language. In addition, we will hold a Lyseth family break-out option to share additional updates on the Lyseth program and potential tweaks for next year.
As you know, the Portland Public Schools was among multiple school districts around the state that were the targets of active shooter threats on Nov. 15. Although the threats turned out to be hoaxes, they were traumatic events for students, staff and families – who all may need additional support to help process the experience. The Maine Department of Education has provided resources for families and schools to assist in that. Learn more.
News of another mass shooting, this one at a gay nightclub in Colorado this past Saturday, shocks and saddens us all and can be particularly traumatic for students and adults in our LGBTQ+ community. Please know that the Portland Public Schools stands in solidarity with our LGBTQ+ students, staff and families. And – as the Portland Board of Public Education stated in a resolution it passed in February 2021 decrying hate crimes locally that targeted members of this community – our district remains committed to rooting out homophobia in schools and incorporating LGBTQ+ history, culture, and identity into the curriculum.
Deering High School hosted an all-events speech and debate tournament on Nov. 19 that was very successful, according to teacher Molly Callaghan, who co-coaches Deering’s outstanding Debate Team, along with Krista Simonis. Although the school has hosted tournaments in the past, this year’s Deering High Machigonne Meet was the first for the school since debate contests are back in person this year following the pandemic.
On Nov. 15, the Portland Board of Public Education & Superintendent Xavier Botana honored Ellen Flores, a special educator in the Breathe program at Lincoln Middle School, for receiving the 2022 Maine Psychological Association Educator Recognition Award for her commitment to advancing positive mental and behavioral health outcomes for students. Botana said that Ellen is “an amazing and great example of our dedicated PPS special education team – educators who are committed to ensuring that every Portland Public Schools student with special needs can successfully access a rigorous, meaningful education.” Watch on YouTube: https://youtu.be/Ce0FGIw9prw
Learn more about Ellen.
Tyrone Daniels, a cafeteria worker at East End Community School, is the president of the Portland Area Youth Soccer Association. His efforts to go above and beyond to make sure that all kids who want to play – including children from new Mainer multilingual families – get out on the field, led to his being featured in the Portland Press Herald's annual Thanksgiving series titled "Mainers To Be Thankful For." Read about Tyrone and the other nine Mainers featured this year at: https://www.pressherald.com/
Check out Superintendent Botana’s November column in The Forecaster in which he borrows from the iconic poster of Uncle Sam to say, “The Portland schools want YOU – as substitutes, volunteers and regular employees including educational technicians, teachers and bus drivers." It’s titled: “The Portland schools want you to work for them.”
The Make It Happen (MIH) program at the Portland Public Schools is recruiting volunteers to serve as Academic Coaches. Make It Happen is a college readiness program that helps multilingual students build competitive academic profiles for college admission and financial aid. As an Academic Coach, you will serve students at centers located throughout the District. MIH center staff, Site Coordinators, will pair you with students who participate in the MIH program and are seeking academic support. From there, you will work to provide homework support, reading and writing enrichment, math and science tutoring, and college application support.
The traditional Turkey Day football game between Portland and Deering high schools is scheduled for Thanksgiving Day, Thursday. Nov. 24, at Fitzpatrick Stadium. Kickoff is at 10 a.m. this year for the 110th edition of the game.
Turkey Day Football Game
Rethinking PTO Fundraising
December 13, 2022 5:30-7:30 PM Moore Middle School
High School Information Night
December 5, 2022 6:30-8:00 PM tinyurl.com/HSInfoNight22
Reimagining Family Engagement
Rethinking PTO Fundraising
December 13, 2022 5:30-7:30 PM Moore Middle School
Community Forum on World Language
December 19, 2022 6:30-8:00 PM King Middle School