• Phone :
    • (207) 874-8100
    • Address :
    • 353 Cumberland AvePortland, Maine 04101
    • Connect with us:

School Board Appoints New Chair; Holds Inauguration

this is content
School Board Appoints New Chair; Holds Inauguration
Posted on 12/08/2015
This is the image for the news article titled School Board Appoints New Chair; Holds Inauguration

Marnie Morrione was voted in Dec. 7 as the new chair of the Portland Board of Public Education for the coming year. The board also held an inauguration for three recently reelected board members and for four new student representatives to the board.

Taking the oath of office at the inauguration ceremony at City Hall were at-large member Sarah Thompson; District 1 representative Jenna Vendil; and District 2 representative Holly Seeliger. Portland voters returned all three to their seats on Nov. 3.

Also sworn in were new student representatives for the coming year: Ludiya Abdalla, representing Portland High School; Blaize Vail, representing Deering High School; Matthew Suslovic, representing Casco Bay High School; and Kevin Segal, representing the Portland Arts and Technology High School (PATHS).

Morrione, who has been on the board for seven years, succeeds Sarah Thompson as chair. Thompson held the post for two successive years. Morrione thanked Thompson her leadership over the past two years. “Her care and dedication to the district is unparalleled,” Morrione said.

Morrione promised to be a builder of consensus, to remain focused, to listen carefully, to collaborate and to lead by example. She said she plans to use the coming year as a time “to build on what is working well” and also to focus on “what we can do to create a better future for the students of Portland.”

She said she wants to focus on “three exciting opportunities” this year. One is hiring a new superintendent. The board is in the process of searching for a new superintendent and hopes to have a new leader in place this summer, when Interim Portland Superintendent Jeanne Crocker’s one-year term comes to an end.

The second is addressing infrastructure needs for Hall Elementary School and other schools. The district is continuing to work through the state’s 21-step process for the state-funded replacement of Fred P. Hall Elementary School. The hope is to have a referendum on the project go before Portland voters in the spring of 2016. But the board also plans to work with the City Council to address other district infrastructure needs through the city’s capital improvements budget.

Thirdly, Morrione said her goal is to increase family engagement.

Thompson listed a number of board changes and actions that took place during her tenure. The changes include more board recognition of students and staff for awards and accomplishments and easier access to school board meetings. The board now meets in City Hall once a month and then holds its second regular meeting in various schools around the city to make it easier for the public to attend meetings. It also gives them a chance to tour the schools.

Thompson also noted that the board approved adding 20 minutes of student learning time to each school day this fall and has successfully partnered with Greater Portland METRO to transport the district’s high school students.

Looking forward, Thompson said the board is considering a proposal to establish a Public Affairs Committee that would provide an additional opportunity to gather ideas and hear concerns from the pubic and help to educate the public about the school system’s accomplishments and needs.

At the inauguration ceremony, board members praised outgoing student board representatives and thanked them for their service. Stepping down were John Phan, the PHS representative; Sahra Ahmed, the DHS representative; Sophie VanDerburgh, the CBHS representative; and Maria Fontaine, PATHS representative.

Tenth-grader Blaize Vail is DHS’ new student representative. He has been an active member of the student senate for the past two years and also is a member of the football and basketball teams. He is in the Key Club, is a Bench Buddy at Longfellow Elementary School and is a member of the Drama Club.

Junior Matthew Suslovic is CBHS’ new board representative. He said he wants to gain a lot of first-hand experience with local government and bring more open communication between the board and his peers. He said he wants to be an “effective bridge between these two bodies and advocate for bringing much-needed resources to CBHS as it finishes its expansion.” Also, he said, “I'm looking forward to continue working with the school board and METRO to keep improving our new transportation system as well as campaigning for the revision/preservation/expansion of resources critical to student and teacher success.”

Kevin Segal, a junior, is the new representative for PATHS. He attends DHS and is in the manufacturing technology program at PATHS. He said his leadership experience includes receiving the Soccer First Team Leadership Award in his freshman year; being given the Player’s Award this fall by his junior varsity soccer teammates; and being named captain of the DHS Varsity Soccer Team for next year. He also won a DHS Outward Bound Leadership Scholarship to attend a three-week expedition in the Maine woods this past summer and is a member of Bench Buddies.

The new PHS representative, junior Ludiya Abdalla, was born in a refugee camp in Egypt and moved to Maine with her family when she was a baby. Today she is an accomplished student who takes honors classes. She also learned to ice skate last winter and joined the Portland/Deering cooperative hockey team, playing goalie.

PHOTO CAPTIONS: (above) Marnie Morrione, new school board chair.
(below) New student representatives to the board (clockwise, from left): Ludiya Abdalla, PHS; Blaize Vail, DHS; Matthew Suslovic, CBHS; and Kevin Segal, PATHS.

Ludiya Abdalla Blaize Vail

Matthew Suslovic Kevin Segal