Staff & Community Newsletter - Oct 28, 2022
Dear Portland Public Schools families, staff and community members,
It’s almost November, a month when we turn the national spotlight on public education. American Education Week, which runs from Nov. 13 to Nov. 19, highlights the importance of providing every child in America with a quality public education. This is a good opportunity to reflect on how we can best achieve that at the Portland Public Schools.
Please keep that in mind as we approach Election Day on Nov. 8. Portland residents are voting on candidates for three seats up for election on the Portland Board of Public Education. Learn who is on the ballot in this newsletter.
SCHOOL BOARD NEWS
The Portland Board of Public Education voted Oct. 18 to approve a new three-year collective bargaining agreement with the union representing the district’s educational technicians. The new contract recognizes the important work of these key employees and makes the Portland Public Schools more competitive with other districts. The contract runs from Sept. 1, 2021 to Aug. 31, 2024, with wage increases retroactive to that earlier date.
Three seats are up for election to the Portland Board of Education on Nov. 8: two at-large seats and the District 3 seat. Only the District 3 seat is contested on the ballot. Portland voters will also vote on Question 5, which would allow the Board to set the bottom line of the school budget before sending to voters for a final say.
The Portland Board of Public Education on Oct. 18 approved another community representative to serve on the Superintendent Search Committee. The appointment of Lucy Shulman, a Portland resident who is an adjunct instructor at Portland Adult Education, brings the number of community representatives on the committee to eight. The Board approved the appointment of the seven other community representatives at its Oct. 11 meeting.
The Foundation for Portland Public Schools (FPPS) has just completed its 14th annual teacher grants program cycle. Seventy-six teachers, ed techs, librarians, and others have been awarded grants totaling $59,261. These grants will benefit thousands of students – from preK through Portland Adult Education – in 15 schools across the Portland Public Schools (PPS).
The Rotary Club of Portland, Maine is working with the Portland Public Schools to provide warm, waterproof winter boots to Portland students. There is a huge need as many families are experiencing a Maine winter for the first time. We are reaching out to the Portland community for “gently used boots” and also new boots that we can provide to these students in need.
The city of Portland’s Public Health Division, working with Northern Light, is offering a flu and COVID bivalent booster vaccination clinic on Friday, Nov. 4, from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM at 39 Forest Avenue. Flu and COVID vaccinations will be available to the public, insured and uninsured, ages 12 and older.
Painting for a Purpose, which raises money to fund service learning projects led by Portland Public Schools students, is the subject of this WMTW Channel 8 TV news story: “Painting for a Purpose raises grant money for students”
News of another devastating school shooting this week at a high school in St. Louis, Missouri is tragic and overwhelming. Acts of violence, especially those that impact schools, can confuse and frighten students of any age, and may lead to feelings of danger or worry that they themselves, their friends or loved ones are at risk. They will look to adults for guidance at home, at school and in the community.
Check out this heartwarming story in the Portland Phoenix about Deering High 2013 alum Thiwat Thiwat: "Game On: Kidney transplant opens up ‘a whole different world’ for former Deering basketball star"
In 2017, Mike Masudi arrived in the U.S. by himself at age 19. Since then, he's earned his GED, an associate's degree in information technology, and is pursuing a bachelor's degree in cybersecurity. In this episode of a Maine Community Foundation (MaineCF) podcast, Mike shares how he got where he is today. Anja Hanson, academic advisor at Portland Adult Education, describes the obstacles adult learners face and the determination they have to succeed.
Thanks to a new Maine law, school meals are free for all Maine students, but it’s still very important to fill out a free-or-reduced school-meal application. Completing the applications provides the Portland Public Schools with family income data that helps the district receive the federal and state funding we need.
In response to the challenges facing students, educators, staff, and schools, Congress provided emergency funds to districts (LEA’s) to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID–19 Here’s a summary of the use of these COVID Relief Funds. https://www.portlandschools.org/department/finance/esserf-public-notice
The Portland Public Schools is inviting parents to join the High School Design Team to help reenvision our high schools to better meet the changing needs of our community. Portland’s high schools have many wonderful features. We are rightly proud of much of what our schools are able to offer our diverse student body. All three of our general high schools have a rich set of traditions and unique characteristics. At the same time, we all recognize that as we focus on creating equitable outcomes for all of our students, we have a responsibility to look deeply at our high schools and continue to evolve them to meet the changing needs of our community.
On October 3-October 6th, all 3rd grade students participated in field work at the Presumpscot River. This fieldwork is aligned with their Wabanaki/Life Science unit: Take Me to the River. Students had the opportunity to experience three different ways in which water moves: still, cascading, and flowing. They spent time ‘noticing and wondering’ at each site and met some river ‘friends’--brown trout, sunfish and crayfish. They identified various plants in the river ecosystem and asked some very good questions about dams--setting up the next set of lessons back at school nicely. Even a drizzly day didn’t dampen the joy!
In an annual tradition on Oct. 22, Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows presented a Maine Teacher of the Year specialty license plate (MTOY 23) to Casco Bay High School humanities teacher Matt Bernstein, who was recently named 2023 Maine Teacher of the Year. Bellows tweeted: "It was such a treat to recognize Maine’s amazing teachers and honor #MTOY23 Matt Bernstein. Teachers do so much to support our young people, and public education has been a cornerstone of our democracy." Gov. Janet Mills also attended the event to honor Bernstein.
PPS teachers, here’s an exciting opportunity from Portland Stage: “You and a guest are invited to Teachers' Night Out at Portland Stage on Friday, November 4th. Enjoy an evening of theater, snacks, and drinks, all for FREE. The evening will begin with a reception with light food and drinks in our Theater for Kids space, where you will have the opportunity to learn more about our education programming. Doors open for the reception at 5:30 pm. Then head upstairs for the 7:30 pm performance of Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure.
The goal of Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Maine is to ensure that every member graduates from high school on time with a plan for their future; whether moving on to community college, the trades, or a 4-year college or university. In order to meet this challenge, the organization is launching a Bridge to Success program and is seeking a Success Coach to provide one-to-one and small group support for youth across southern Maine who participate in Bridge to Success.
The Portland Public Schools has new substitute pay rates! As of Oct. 3, the rates in this document are now being paid to our subs. These interim rates will remain in effect for this school year. Apply to be a sub at: https://www.portlandschools.org/department/human-resources/employment
Shared Space Cafe
Forum for Lincoln Middle School Families
November 1, 2022 5:30-7:30 PM Lincoln Middle School
Shared Space Cafe: Community Conversation
Forum for Rowe School Families
November 17, 2022 5:30-7:30 PM Rowe Elementary School
Transition to High School
December 5, 2022 6:00-7:30 PM
Have you filled out your school meal application form?