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School Board Chair Gives Annual State of the Schools Address

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School Board Chair Gives Annual State of the Schools Address
Posted on 10/17/2016
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Marnie Morrione, chair of the Portland Board of Public Education, gave the annual State of the Schools report to the Portland City Council on Monday, Oct. 17. She highlighted numerous accomplishments of the Portland Public Schools over the past year. She also talked about what is needed to ensure that Portland is able to continue to offer a high quality education to all its students in the future.

Changes to the City Charter approved by Portland voters in 2010 established that the chair of the school board would deliver an annual address to the City Council and public on the state of the public education system in Portland.

(To read the full 2016 State of the Schools address, click HERE. Here also is some data about the Portland Public Schools, referred to in the speech: Fast Facts and District Data Snapshot, October 2016)

Morrione told the council that quality schools in Portland have a positive impact on everyone in the city.

“We are working together to meet not only the needs of students, but also to make a positive lasting difference for each child, every family, and our entire community – our society,” she said. “This is work we cannot afford to take lightly and we each play an integral part.”

She noted that the Portland Public Schools serves close to a total of 11,000 students from pre-kindergarten through adult education, thus “having a direct impact on the lives of approximately 1 in 6 Portlanders.”

She said the School Board is already very pleased with the leadership of the district’s new superintendent, Xavier Botana. He started July 1, after being selected this past spring following a nationwide search.

Morrione provided a district data snapshot to shows where students are making progress and also shows areas where the district needs to invest strategically to improve student outcomes. And she noted that the district “is now engaged in the exciting work of preparing our current eighth graders to receive ‘Proficiency-Based Diplomas’ when they graduate from high school in 2021.”

Morrione highlighted a variety of unique learning opportunities and programs at the district’s schools.

She also talked about the various ways the district has grown its education regarding various career options, giving examples at the Portland Arts and Technology High School (PATHS) and Portland High School. She also highlighted the wide variety of community partners that aid the district in its efforts to improve graduation rates and student achievement.

“The Portland Public Schools also recognizes that we can’t educate our children alone – family engagement is essential,” Morrione said. She highlighted efforts the district is doing to enhance its relationship with families, such as through the recent creation of the Parent Partnership Policy Ad Hoc Committee.

She thanked the public for its support of the school budget in May. Regarding the next school budget, Morrione talked about the school board’s endorsement of “Stand Up for Students,” a citizens’ initiative on the state ballot this November that would generate an estimated $157 million more in state education funding. “If Question 2 passes on Nov. 8, Portland stands to receive approximately $11 million in additional state aid that is desperately needed,” she said.

Looking towards the upcoming year and beyond, Morrione said the district is in the process of updating its Comprehensive Plan, a roadmap to align the district’s work with its mission and vision. A final plan is expected by the end of the year.

Morrione thanked the council for voting to create the School Facilities Ad Hoc Committee to study a bond proposal to renovate Longfellow, Reiche, Presumpscot and Lyseth elementary schools. Construction should begin soon on a new Hall Elementary School, slated to open in the fall of 2018 and for which the state is paying most of the cost. But Morrione said the four other schools also are in urgent need of upgrades. The School Facilities Committee is expected to send a recommendation regarding the elementary schools to the school board in November.

She concluded her address by saying, “In conclusion, as we reflect on the present and look toward our future, we must remember all of our children and adult learners deserve the best we can offer.”