June 11, 2021   
Dear Portland Public Schools families, staff and community members,
I’ll begin with a huge THANK YOU to Portland voters for supporting our FY22 Portland Public Schools budget – and by such a large margin! On behalf of the Board, our faculty and staff and all our students, I am most grateful. This budget puts equity at the center of our work, enabling us to make investments to help marginalized students – English language learners and those who have disabilities and are economically disadvantaged – realize their potential. I am so proud to work and live in a community that consistently shows that it not only believes in the value of public education but also in making that education accessible to all. 
Our district could receive an additional $6.2 million in state education aid for this coming school year if the Maine Legislature approves Gov. Janet Mills’ proposed $187 million supplemental budget for education. That would increase the state’s share of statewide school funding to a voter-mandated 55 percent. We are incredibly grateful for this demonstration of commitment to public education. I’m hopeful that the Legislature will act favorably on the Governor's request. We will then be prepared to bring recommendations to the School Board for their and the City Council’s approval. If that work is completed by mid-July, it will allow us to have the changes reflected  in this year's tax bills.
In the meantime, thanks to our community’s support for our schools, we can now focus all our energies on planning for students to return to full-time learning this fall.  A June 9 announcement by the Maine Department of Education (MDOE)  lifting all physical distancing requirements for PreK-12 schools and adult education programs this fall is very helpful. 
MDOE’s decision is based on a significant number of Mainers now being vaccinated, which reduces the spread of COVID-19. MDOE also this week ended the state’s mask mandate for public schools as of July 1, although face coverings will still be recommended for those who are unvaccinated, including students under 12 who are not yet eligible. The state also is encouraging schools to participate in a pooled testing program to protect students younger than 12 and to help minimize quarantines of close contacts. We are in the process of evaluating our participation in pooled testing. We will keep everyone updated over the summer.
A key to in-person learning this year has been careful adherence to public health guidelines. The most significant public health advance of the last year are the vaccines. As we head into summer, I implore all members of the Portland Public Schools community to please get vaccinated if you have not already done so, and also encourage family members 12 or older to join you. There are many opportunities to get vaccinated all around us. Learn about them in our Health Updates document. The more members of our school community who get vaccinated, the safer we’ll all be when we return this fall.
The last student day of school, Tuesday, June 15, is just days away. It won’t be a half day this year – all schools will follow their current bell schedule. We’re successfully closing out a school year of extraordinary challenges, and I thank you, our extraordinary Portland Public Schools community, for your cooperation, patience and persistence in making that possible.

Xavier Botana, Superintendent


This link has the latest information on clinics and vaccine opportunities, travel guidelines, distancing, use of masks, cleaning, and COVID-19 testing. 

The Portland Public Schools puts out a weekly COVID advisory each Friday. It includes the number of positive cases associated with our schools during the past week and any outbreak declarations or building closures as a result. Staff, families and staff at impacted schools are immediately notified of positive cases and closings, but the weekly advisory is an effort to keep the broader PPS community informed. The advisory typically is posted at the end of the day on Fridays in the District Spotlight section of the district's homepage. Here’s the link to the June 11th weekly update.
What a challenging school year it has been! Portland Public School support teams, including school counselors and school social workers, have compiled wellness resources for students to refer back to this summer. The document can be found here, and includes items such as opportunities for joy and resources to support you if you find you are having a difficult time. 

FEMA Mobile Vaccination Unit is coming to Portland

FEMA’s mobile vaccination clinic is coming to Portland! This is a drop-in clinic – no appointment necessary! J & J vaccine for those 18 and older.

Date: Thursday, June 10th – Sunday, June 13th, 2021 

Time: 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m., Thursday to Sunday 

Location: Rising Tide Brewing parking lot, 103 Fox Street, Portland
Learn more here

OAES Head Custodian Celebrated June 11
On June 11, Ocean Avenue Elementary School held a surprise ceremony to celebrate school lead custodian Donna Colello for earning a finalist nomination in the 2021 Custodian of the Year award sponsored by Cintas Corp. Her hard work, kindness and passion earned her the prestigious nomination earlier this year. Learn more.
As a reminder, on the final day of school for students this year, Tuesday, June 15, all schools will follow their current bell schedule. In other words, Tuesday will NOT be a half day. Wednesday, June 16, is the last day for teachers. That day will be a normal teacher workday.

Videos are now available of the Deering, Portland and Casco Bay high school
commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2021. Enjoy!
DHSPHSCBHS. You can also read about the graduations and see photos on our website at this link.
Families: Register Now for Our New Summer Community Partner Program!

As we wind down the year, we’re shifting our focus to helping families access our summer learning opportunities. 

Schools have sent out an invitation to students designated to attend our school-based programs. Families can sign up for our elective new summer Community Partner Program. We sent out an email/text to all families last week with details about the Community Partner Program and we’ve also made brochures available in a variety of languages. We are thrilled to have great summer learning and engagement options and hope that our families will take advantage of them! These are incredible summer opportunities for your children to attend a wide range of camps whose fun and instructional activities include music, sports, art, theater, writing and much more!

These slots are intended for families most in need financially – those who qualify for free and reduced price lunch. We are asking families to self identify on the choice/registration form if they qualify. Click HERE to learn more about our roster of engaging summer programs in a variety of languages. Any families who are interested should complete the registration form to identify which camps they are interested in. Please register soon – matches will be made on a first-come, first-serve basis!

As a reminder, student hotspots must be returned to the school by the last day of school, Tuesday, June 15. Service to hotspots will be disabled on June 16. We will not be collecting the devices from students in grades 9-11. If students who have financial need (they qualify for free or reduced-price lunch) need a hotspot for summer learning, they may request one using this form.
Portland voters on Tuesday, June 8, voted overwhelmingly to validate the Portland Public Schools’ $125.2 million budget for fiscal year 2022. The budget includes $2.9 million in investments in initiatives to better support English language learners and students with special needs and those who are economically disadvantaged. Learn more details here.
Annual PPS Student Art Show at City Hall Goes Virtual in 2021
Due to the pandemic, the Annual Portland Public Schools Student Art Show at City Hall was not held this spring, so the show has gone virtual in 2021. A slideshow of student work showcases the artwork of more than 150 talented PPS students in elementary through high school. Learn more and view the artwork here

Painting for a Purpose is a group of volunteers who are united to raise funds for Portland Public Schools youth-led service-learning projects. After a long year of painting over Zoom and selling online, Painting for a Purpose is so excited to be back – with a Summer Craft Sale on July 17, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 24 Cove Road in Freeport. Painting for a Purpose has gotten more creative than ever and is now stocked with many colorful pieces to brighten your day. Browse their whimsically painted items including lobsters, birds, fish, garden totems, rabbits, flower pots, trays and more!

In the past 11 years, Painting for a Purpose has funded nearly 100 grants  to students who are committed to making a change in their communities. Check them out here. RSVP on Facebook and invite your friends here! 

This June 8 Portland Press Herald story features a colorful and meaningful student project: "Deering High student’s street art sends a message about social justice." Read more here. 
Cindy Soule, 2021 Maine Teacher of the Year and a fourth-grade teacher at Talbot Community School, wrote this inspirational op-ed, published in the Portland Press Herald: “This past school year was not lost, it was lived. Beautifully.” Read the article here.

Two seniors at Portland High School are among the Portland Press Herald's
"Graduates to Watch 2021": Raphael Brisson & Christiana “Anna” Gannon. Anna also is a student at the Portland Arts and Technology High School. Congratulations to these impressive students! Read more here
Looking for a fun outdoor event for kids that benefits PPS? Sign up for the 2021 Portland Kids Duathlon!  Presented by Benchmark Real Estate, it's run just like adult races with timing, swag, blow up finish line, food trucks, race photos, and more. Sunday, July 25th at 8:00 a.m. is the in-person event for ages 3-12 and there's also a virtual option for kids of all ages.

All money raised through this event is donated to support the Foundation for Portland Public Schools. Visit our website for more information and to register. Volunteers very much needed too! Short commitment, long smiles!

The New England Arab American Organization wants to introduce you to a new program called SOAR, in case you know any young people who would like to participate.  The commitment will be once a week from June to October—and maybe beyond if they would like to continue. 

SOAR—Students for Opportunity, Advocacy and Respect—offers a safe space for students to discuss issues impacting BIPOC youth and support one another while learning new skills (like filmmaking) and experiencing new activities (like kayaking, ziplining).  Their primary interest is inviting BIPOC and New Mainer youth.

They are looking for students in grades 9-12 and will pay a small stipend for participation.  Also part of the program is performing a major needs assessment of area youth attitudes. They are getting help from the National Center for Arab American Philanthropy to lead SOAR participants through the process—which will be a good addition to any applications for work, college, or vocational school. If you know any students who might be interested, please send your email at or call Zoe at 347-0249. Please spread to your networks! 
We are hiring two Americorp VISTA positions, see the postings below. The application and more information can be found here for the PPS position and here for the Mulitilingual and Multicultural Center position. Spread the word! 
The Portland Public Schools is excited to be offering the Teach Portland program this summer! Teach Portland is a summer program that seeks to build interest in the teaching profession and increase the diversity of teachers in Maine. Teach Portland provides an opportunity for participants to experience teaching firsthand in one of our summer learning classrooms, to receive a stipend for participating in the program, and to access optional professional development activities. Read more and access the application here.
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