The Portland Public Schools (PPS) serves approximately 6,500 students in 17 schools in pre-K through grade 12, about one-third of whom come from homes where a language other than English is spoken – for a total of more than 50 languages. The district serves an additional 3,500 students through Portland Adult Education. With an increasingly diverse staff of more than 1,300 educators and other staff members, the district celebrates the rich diversity and has intentionally prioritized equity through its strategic plan, the Portland Promise. As the largest school system in Maine, the mission of Portland Public Schools is to ensure a challenging, relevant, and joyful education that empowers every learner to make a difference in the world. The district strives to build relationships among families, educators, and the community to promote the healthy development and academic achievement of every learner. The work is guided by the following core values:
High Expectations - We are all expected and enabled to meet high standards
Creativity and Innovation - We embrace all modes of learning and encourage experimentation, ingenuity, and boldness
Individuality - We respect and value each person as an individual
Community - We are better together, and we support one another
Courage - We commit to always confronting inequity
About the Superintendent Role
Reporting to the nine-member elected school board along with five student board members, the Superintendent serves as the face of the district, a leader in the community, and a champion for the needs of the Portland students and families. The person in this position will oversee a $133M budget, make critical decisions to advance academic achievement and its impact on students' lives, improve and maximize the district's effectiveness, unify key stakeholders, and rebuild trust throughout the community. While there is significant shared commitment for the four goals of the Portland Promise —Achievement, Whole Student, and People, all centering on the fourth key goal of Equity, the next Superintendent will need to go deeper to implement key strategies for meeting those goals with a keen eye toward monitoring and measuring progress and adjusting course as needed. The Superintendent must have or develop deep understanding and connection with the Portland community and its many supporters.
What You’ll Do (Responsibilities)
Put students first and continue to pursue an equity-centered, diverse, and inclusive system, focused on student achievement, growth, and success
Ensure that every aspect of academic and non-academic programming works well for our students, with attention to the most vulnerable and marginalized students.
Ensure that the district's mission, vision, key priorities, reasoning, and data to support them are well-articulated and well-understood by our staff, partners, and stakeholders.
Pursue academic rigor and equitable educational outcomes, which reinforce each other, for each Portland student and eliminate achievement gaps between students by race, Free and reduced lunch (FRL), English Language Learners (ELL), and special education status.
Create and cultivate safe, engaging learning environments that fully support all learners, with particular attention to those who are at risk for adverse learning outcomes.
Advance restorative justice practices, training, and resources to ensure consistent application of and accountability to the updated policies/procedures for student discipline, engagement, and safety.
Refine the strategic plan as the updated framework for success and focus on the next level of implementation and monitoring to achieve the goals
Lead the district through strategic and facilities planning, building on the district's successes and using the Portland Promise as the foundational roadmap.
Mobilize the staff and community behind the updated plan, goals, and key priorities that accelerate learning and innovation while maintaining a focus on equity, inclusion, and belonging.
Deepen innovative approaches to prepare students for college or careers while addressing systemic inequities that persist.
Commit to continuous improvement through analysis, inquiry, and assessment of results and alignment to district strategic priorities.
Maintain open and ongoing communication with stakeholders related to outcomes.
Work meaningfully with all stakeholders, including students and educators, across the greater Portland community and region to inform and problem-solve short and long-term challenges, and to establish partnerships and shared ownership
Strengthen communication and collaboration with students and educators to enhance learning across the district.
Expand trust, partnerships, and connections with our community, learning what matters to our families and our communities to inform key decisions and priorities for the district.
Communicate and collaborate with all members of the board, engaging with the board transparently on new or forthcoming developments, initiatives, and issues in the district; provide guidance that enables the board to function strategically and effectively.
Welcome students as partners in the decision-making process, ensuring that students' voices and feedback are heard at all levels of the organization.
Manage the day-to-day operations of the district and the financial viability to ensure sustainability and equitable allocation of resources
Systematize key functions in the district to maximize efficiency, enhance productivity, and increase access to necessary information for all internal and external stakeholders.
Manage organizational operations including the planning, supervision, and evaluation of the staff, programs, services, and facilities of the district.
Ensure maximum resource utilization, budget management, and maintenance of the district to put the school system in a positive, productive, and sustainable financial situation.
Direct the identification of funding opportunities that enhance revenues through grants, partnerships, and state legislation.
Assess the district office structure and ensure that it is organized and resourced to provide efficient and excellent customer service and solutions in support of schools, students, educators, families, and staff.
Promote equitable and inclusive recruiting, hiring, and onboarding practices to find, grow, and retain a diverse team.
Develop the leadership pipeline and tap into the potential of current and future leaders.
What Skills You’ll Need to be Successful (Competencies)
Courageous Student-Centered Leadership
Dedicated to sharpening the district’s focus on academic achievement.
Willing to make courageous decisions, even when unpopular, and use voice to change public opinion and convince others to take action.
Create conditions where students feel safe, supported, challenged, and included.
Demonstrate belief in, and hold self and others accountable for reaching high academic outcomes for all students.
Navigate complex environments and act with integrity, honesty, transparency, and courage in the best interest of students.
Ability to Unify Community Behind a Shared Vision
Lead with accessibility, approachability, transparency, and humility to understand what makes Portland special.
Maintain visibility and presence in the schools and greater community, engaging genuinely with others in a way that engenders trust and creates meaningful connections.
Seek, welcome, and elevate the voices of marginalized communities and potential allies to ensure diverse input, new perspectives, and new solutions on key decisions.
Understand the political context at the state and local level, demonstrating the skill to analyze complex political structures and build alliances across stakeholder groups, while staying grounded in the shared goals established with the community.
Unify students, educators, parents, board members, education leaders, city and state officials, and other key stakeholders behind a shared vision to inspire and drive investment in the district's programming and operational needs.
Identify and address challenges within the district and establish a path forward.
Practice transparent decision-making; listen actively and with an open mind – include others in creating the path forward; share openly with stakeholders how their input informed key decisions.
Capacity Builder and Team Champion
Inspire, mentor, coach, and develop the leadership team.
Elevate the expertise and perspectives at all levels of the organization so that buy-in is built throughout and beyond the district.
Support a collaborative and healthy work environment with mutual respect to achieve ambitious goals.
Assess team and individuals skills, identify development needs, and provide feedback and support to improve practice, build capacity, maximize talent, and distribute leadership.
Hold self and others accountable for high standards of performance, communication, collaboration, and transparency toward the achievement of goals and priorities.
Promote professional learning through purposeful cycles of continuous feedback and coaching and utilize effective adult learning techniques.
Celebrate successes and reward team achievements.
Equity Mindset and Culture Steward
Believe in and sustain a culture of high expectations, accountability, and continuous improvement grounded in the core values of the district.
Display the will and skill to interrupt inequitable processes, systems, and practices through honest dialogue; go beyond recognition of racial disparities to take responsibility and accountability for making things just.
Demonstrate cultural fluency, responsiveness, and awareness while approaching the work with a strong equity lens to establish a culture of growth and a learning mindset around issues of equity and inclusion.
Establish authentic relationships across lines of difference (race, ethnicity, gender, age, socioeconomic background, LGBTQIA+ status, etc.) both internally and externally–and create conditions for all stakeholders to do the same in safe and intentional environments.
Challenge assumptions and preconceived notions to avoid distraction from core priorities and goals in the interest of student success.
Data-Driven Systems Thinker
Execute key initiatives strategically and deliberately using multiple sources of data in making critical decisions and communicate the reasoning behind them to all audiences.
Operate at a micro and macro level, and balance the overarching goals with detailed steps to achieve the district’s objectives and priorities.
Analyze complex situations and data, before making decisions, and then set clear metrics for success, monitor progress, and honestly acknowledge mistakes when something does not go as planned.
Activate the operational systems and structures to drive district improvement and efficiency and to maintain high-quality and equitable teaching, learning, and academic programs.
The salary for this position is competitive and commensurate with prior experience. In addition, a comprehensive benefits package will be included in the ultimate offer for the identified sole finalist. Portland Public Schools is an equal-opportunity employer and encourages applications from diverse candidates. Portland Public Schools does not discriminate in any aspect of employment on the basis of race, color, ancestry or national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, disability, veteran status, genetic information, or age.
At least 7-10 years of administrative experience with progressive levels of responsibility and evidence of successful organizational outcomes and effective operational and fiscal management.
Successful experience working in diverse economic, multicultural, and multilingual communities and environments. Proven cultural-competence skills with a history of inclusive and relevant equity practices.
Demonstrated track record of success with improving student and data-driven decision making ideally in an urban public school district setting.
Demonstrated track record of establishing K-12 learning goals, monitoring student progress and facilitating successful student outcomes.
Demonstrated success in fostering consensus and trust, functional and productive relationships with board members, city officials, community partners, union leadership, or employee associations.
Track record of successfully managing daily operations and administration of district finances, and holding self and senior leaders accountable for effective outcomes.
Advanced knowledge of public school policy and law, procedures, and management. Thorough understanding of national, state, and local educational goals and standards required to advance high-quality, accessible, equitable public education.
A demonstrable commitment to the importance of public education and advocacy for all students, especially students with disabilities, students experiencing food and housing insecurity, and newcomers to the United States.
Experience working in conjunction with a board to identify priorities, establish goals, track progress, and produce outcomes in service to stakeholders.
Alma is dedicated to fostering the people, practices, and culture that enable staff to do their best, teams to do great work, and organizations to accomplish outstanding results.
We partner closely with our clients to understand their unique context, and the conditions that affect their ability to ensure the success of their staff. Then we work in collaboration with our clients to chart a path to solving their most pressing human capital needs, building the capacity in-house to continue to strengthen their work over time.