Staff & Community Newsletter - Sept 30, 2022
Dear Portland Public Schools families, staff and community members,
Happy fall! It’s now officially autumn on the calendar, and exciting teaching and learning is fully underway at the Portland Public Schools.
As just one example, we inaugurated our new PPS Mobile Makerspace in a Sept. 14 ceremony at Rowe Elementary School, where the makerspace will be housed. This mobile STEM lab will travel around to our elementary schools for two-week visits so that all students will have the opportunity to explore STEM learning using this amazing resource. I am grateful to our many funders who have helped to make this opportunity possible. Thank you to Assistant Superintendent Melea Nalli, Foundation for Portland Public Schools Executive Director Andi Weisman Summers and, especially our STEM Coordinator Brooke Teller for their vision, passion and drive in making this project become a reality. I am also thrilled that Karen Shibles, a seasoned and exceptional science educator, has volunteered to lead our makerspace learning.
School Board News
At its Sept. 20 meeting, the Portland Board of Public Education voted unanimously to approve a new three-year collective bargaining agreement with the Portland Education Association, The new contract shows trust and collaboration on both sides, with educators and the district working towards a common goal of student success. The contract begins this school year and runs through the 2024-2025 school year.
At its Sept. 20 meeting, the Portland Board of Public Education approved changing the district’s high school preference process, starting this fall.
Portland students traditionally are able to choose whether they want to attend Portland or Deering high schools. Casco Bay High School, which is smaller and enrolls only 100 students per grade, uses a lottery system if it has more than 95 applicants for its freshman class. Because Deering and Portland have no cap on the number of students admitted, this has led to fluctuations at those schools over time. Sometimes the fluctuations are very high, which has led to an unequal distribution of resources (such as staff and course offerings) between Portland and Deering and significant variance in the student composition, with PHS being less diverse than the district.
The Board of Public Education on Sept. 6 approved a resolution to recruit members for the Superintendent Search Committee. Made up of five Board members and seven community members, the committee will lead the superintendent search process. The Board tasked its Appointments Committee with recruiting and vetting candidates to serve as the seven community members.
When you visit our district and school websites, you’ll see a beautiful brand-new website that launched on Sept. 26. You’ll find informative and engaging content at your fingertips and a clear and well-organized navigation system so that our staff, families and community members can easily find the information they need. Unlike our previous outdated website, the design is mobile-first. Also, accurate translation into more than 50 different languages for our multilingual families is a snap – anyone can toggle from English to a different language at the top right corner of the site. In addition, our Staff & Community Newsletters, like this one, can now be found and read directly on the website. Just go to the District Homepage and you'll find our newsletters under the News & Calendars tab. Newsletters will be archived in that location.
Deering High School BIPOC Students are featured in this Sept. 24 National Public Radio story about a new program called "Lift All Boats,” which seeks to help young Mainers of color learn how to lobster.
The Portland Public Schools is proud to announce that Portland High School (PHS) has been named one of the top schools in the state for “College Success,” according to GreatSchools, a nonprofit providing school information to parents and families across the nation. This recognition honors schools that excel at preparing students to enroll and succeed in college, as determined by available data in each state.
Check out this NewsCenterMaine, WCSH Channel 6 story: “Portland schools welcome its new Mobile Makerspace" about a new opportunity for STEM learning for our elementary school students.
The Portland Promise, the district’s strategic plan adopted by the Portland Board of Public Education in 2017, has four goals: Achievement, Whole Student and People, which all center on the key fourth goal of Equity. Superintendent Xavier Botana, who joined the district in 2016, spearheaded the development of the Portland Promise and has led the district’s effort toward achieving all those goals.
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.
Read this story in the Portland Phoenix about father-son duo Joseph Giordano Jr. and Joseph Giordano III, who are an invaluable asset to two Bulldog athletic programs:
Portland frequently makes national lists as one of the best places to live and work, but that’s not always true for everyone in our community. Opportunity gaps lead to some students struggling to succeed in school, hardworking families can’t afford housing and other basic necessities, and many of our fellow citizens suffer from preventable health problems. Fortunately, Thrive2027, an effort led by United Way of Southern Maine, is a way for us to work together as a community to address these problems.
King MS Community Conversation
October 6, 2022
King Middle School
This is a forum for King MS parents & caregivers.
Moore MS Community Conversation
October 12, 2022
This is a forum for Moore MS parents & caregivers.
Coffee and Conversation with the Board
October 22, 2022
Deering Oaks Park
Please stop by. We would love to hear from you.