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MAEC Focus Group Summary Report

At the April 14th Board of Education Meeting, Dr. Daryl Williams, Senior Education Equity Specialist at MAEC, shared a summary of themes from focus groups which took place at South Portland High School in March of 2020. MAEC was engaged by the school department and the Board of Education in 2019 to support South Portland's ongoing work to ensure that schools provide equity of access to opportunity for all students.

"This was a proactive step to guide us in looking at issues around equity as part of our strategic vision for our district. Hearing the voices, particularly the voices of students, is an important part of creating a vision upon which to act," said Superintendent Ken Kunin and Dr. Williams in a joint statement. "South Portland Schools will learn from the MAEC recommendations and will work closely with our community and with MAEC to move forward."

A summary of themes from the focus groups can be found here.


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Timothy M. Matheney Appointed Superintendent of South Portland Schools

Following a national search the South Portland Board of Education appointed Timothy Matheney as Superintendent of Schools effective July 1, 2021. Mr. Matheney is a lifelong educator and the founder and president of the Spire Leadership Group, an educational consulting organization.

Matheney stated, "I am eager to build on the great work of Superintendent Kunin and the amazing educators in South Portland as we continue to pursue the Board's vision for equity and excellence. I look forward to leading the implementation of the equity plan currently under development and ensuring collaboration among all stakeholders – students, parents, community members and staff – during this important effort."

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SPSD Statement  on the Events of January 6, 2020

As the sun rose on another day, it left us wondering if January 6 really happened. Did we actually witness an assault on our nation's capital while the Congress was meeting to certify the peaceful transfer of administrations, a bedrock of our democracy since John Adams in 1801? With a very heavy heart, we had to acknowledge that we did.

While we are already striving to continue our students' learning through a year of pandemic, we now have the job of supporting our learning communities through an additional challenge. As we engage with our students we are ever mindful that the sacred purpose of public school, since its very founding, is and has always been to educate our youth to be active participants in our democracy. In uncertain times, our shared task is more important than ever.


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District Digital Citizen Presentation

District technology director Andrew Wallace, Memorial Middle School counselor Christine Stults, and K-12 Library Info Integrator Jen Stanbro presented a myriad of resources related to Digital Citizenship, all of which are available and recommended for parents, children, and community members who are interested in learning about how to be a safe and responsible digital citizen.

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PBIS at Small School

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) are used for improving behavior and practices that affect student outcomes everyday. These practices, although not new to the SPSD, have come to the forefront of education this year as students work through new ways of learning and navigating their educational experience. At the Small School, teachers, staff, and administrators have a system in place that helps inspire and then celebrate students for their work.

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Juggling at Mahoney Middle

With all of the restrictions on student movement this year between classrooms and interpersonally due to COVID, it has been a top priority for teachers and staff in South Portland to create opportunities for the children of the district to be more active. One creative way this has come to fruition is thanks to Laurie Milton and the Connections Program. Milton knew that the students needed something light-hearted and fun that could double as a mentally challenging, physical activity break during the course of the day and was inspired early in the year while shopping.

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Virtual HolidayFest features South Portland Music Students

For over 25 years, the Chamber of Commerce for South Portland and Cape Elizabeth, along with the city of South Portland, have brought the community together with HolidayFest and the tree lighting at the beginning of December. It's no surprise that this year the event has been turned virtual but that couldn't stop the students of South Portland from doing all they could to bring the joy of the seasons to the community.

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Newspaper Front Page Project at Mahoney Middle

Newspapers and the media play a huge role in the local community and Deborah Woodbury and her team at Mahoney Middle School wanted to harness the power of the news to give students an opportunity to share their stories with their teachers and peers this year. Students were tasked with creating their own personal newspaper front page to share this, utilizing many of the important writing skills they've been working on their whole academic career.

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Elementary School Welcome Back Video

We are so excited to welcome our elementary school students and staff back into our elementary school buildings. Everyone at South Portland Schools has been working hard this summer to prepare the buildings and develop procedures to ensure a safe return.

We invite our elementary school parents and students will take a few minutes to view our Welcome Back Video.

We look forward to seeing you next week!

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Translated Parent Forums

The South Portland School Department recently hosted four parent forums for Arabic, French, Portuguese, and Spanish speaking families to discuss the Schools Pandemic Response Plan.

The forums were facilitated by English Language Learner Coordinator Sheanna Zimmerman and Assistant Superintendent Jodi Mezzanotte, and translated by native speakers.

To view a recording of the forums please click the links below:

Portuguese

Arabic

Spanish

French

Families that need assistance with translation service please contact 207-871-0555

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2020 Cohort Grouping Information

Cohort Assignments were emailed to families on July 28th. Unfortunately a number of our outgoing emails were intercepted by SPAM blockers. Please continue reading for more information on how you can receive your child's cohort assignment.

All students have been assigned to cohorts in the event we return to school under the "Yellow" plan - a hybrid of in-person and distance learning.

Every effort has been made to assign siblings to the same cohort; however, there may be some discrepancies based on instructional/programmatic needs. If you have a question or concern regarding your child's/children's cohort placement, please contact the school's principal via email below as most of our buildings remain closed.

Classroom assignments to specific teachers will be shared with families in mid August.

To receive your child's cohort placement please call 207-871-0555 or email your child's principal.


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Teenagers lead the way in Black Lives Matter movement

"Protesting is a beautiful thing. But I want to see support from all those people who were out there. When we get back during the school year, I want to see them at civil rights team meetings. I want to see them at school board meetings, giving their opinions about policies that are inequitable. We can't just protest and be angry and do nothing with that." - Fiona Akilo Stawarz, Student Representative to South Portland Board of Education

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Federal Programs Review

New Assistant Superintendent Jodi Mezzanotte provided the public and Board of Education with an overview of federal programs on July 13th. The presentation covered current funding, expenditures and trends in targeted areas such as professional development, educational technology, and supports for homeless and disadvantaged students and families.
"Title two funding has been decreasing in South Portland but that's a national trend, while there is an uptick in funding for Title four this year" said Mezzanotte.
Ms. Mezzanotte also shared details about the district's programming for English Learners.

Please see the attached presentation. For more information email jam@spsdme.org

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Superintendent Kunin delivers State of the Schools presentation

At a School Board Workshop on Monday, January 27, Mr. Kunin gave the 2019-20 State of the Schools presentation. The aim of the presentation was to provide answers to questions about who we are, how we are doing and where we are going. Mr. Kunin presented on these three questions and then opened it up to questions from the School Board, City Council and Legislative delegation and ended with an opportunity for public comment.

Please click to view the slides of the State of the Schools presentation

Please click to view the televised State of the Schools presentation

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South Portland approves spending $71.6 million on new middle school, traffic upgrades

(reprinted from Kelly Bouchard, Portland Press Herald)

City voters overwhelmingly approved two spending proposals Tuesday totaling $71.6 million that will pay for a new consolidated middle school and related traffic improvements.

The vote was 3,234-962, 77 percent in favor, to borrow $69.3 million to build a new middle school. The project will receive $59.3 million in state funding and require $10 million to be raised locally for building upgrades not covered by the Maine Department of Education.

The new school will replace the city's two aging middle schools – Mahoney and Memorial – and will be built next to Memorial Middle School on Wescott Road. Both schools have a variety of health, safety and structural issues.

"This is going to be great for the kids," said School Committee Chairman Dick Matthews. "We've been working on this for four years. Thank you to the voters of South Portland."

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