Monday, June 22, 2015

The Public Record on Emmanuel “Manny” Caulk

The following is a representative sample of the data I was able to locate on FCPS Superintendent finalist Manny Caulk. It is presented in reverse chronological order. About 194 pages of data has been reduced to 141 pages by eliminating much of the duplication and truncating articles. Notice my use of the ellipsis ... where articles are snipped. Where readily available, links are provided, but much of the search only provided a brief article citation - enough guidance for those who wish to dig deeper. Articles since 2009 or so can likely be located by Googling the article's title.

I'm afraid formatting of the articles may end up being a mess. I will try to clean that up if time permits...but I need to move on to the next candidate.

Emmanuel “Manny” Caulk
Candidate for FCPS Superintendent, 2015

 Portland school superintendent a finalist for Kentucky job

Emmanuel Caulk, who was named Portland's school superintendent in July 2012, is a finalist for the superintendent post in Lexington, Kentucky.

By Noel K. Gallagher Staff Writer June 19, 2015

Three years after joining the Portland Public Schools, Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk is one of two finalists to lead the 40,000-student Lexington, Kentucky, public school system, officials said Friday.
Caulk was hired in July 2012 to be Portland’s school superintendent, and has several years remaining on his contract. The school board voted unanimously this past November to extend his contract to June 2019.
“I am most grateful to the school board for its support and I consider it a privilege and an honor to have been able to serve Portland Public Schools students, staff and families and the Portland community for the past three years,” Caulk said in a news release issued by the Portland Public Schools. 

“I will miss Portland, but I’m eager to take on a new career challenge that represents an opportunity for me personally and professionally.”

Caulk did not return messages seeking comment Friday, and the news release did not address the question of whether he would give up his post in Portland if he does not get the job in Kentucky.
Caulk is one of two finalists to be superintendent of Fayette County Public Schools in Kentucky. The other candidate is Terri Breeden, assistant superintendent of Loudoun County Public Schools in Virginia. Caulk and Breeden will be interviewed in person next week, and meet with community members through forums and receptions, according to Lisa Deffendall, spokeswoman for the Fayette County Public Schools.

Portland School Board Chairwoman Sarah Thompson said she hoped Caulk would stay in Portland.
“I think he’s really done a great job for Portland. My hope is that he will potentially consider staying,” Thompson said. “Certainly the board would love for him to stay.”

Thompson said the board would find a possible interim superintendent and then search for a permanent replacement if Caulk decides to leave.

Deffendall said Caulk and his wife would be in Lexington on Tuesday and Wednesday. Caulk got married last week, according to Thompson

Thompson called Caulk “a transformational superintendent,” noting his work on upgrading school facilities, his focus on student achievement and particularly his efforts to improve community outreach.

“It’s huge, the amount he’s accomplished in three years,” she said. 

Caulk, 43, joined the Portland school district when it was still recovering financially from a budget crisis that led then-superintendent Mary Jo O’Connor to resign in 2007. She was succeeded by James Morse, who left after his three-year term.

During Caulk’s tenure, the district adopted a new Spanish immersion program, and expanded pre-kindergarten classes in the district. He also was the first superintendent to have charter schools in the area drawing students from the district, creating a drain on district finances.


In recent months, he has overseen an agreement to allow high school students to ride Portland Metro instead of traditional yellow buses, and extend the school day by 20 minutes for all students.
He also created a “district scorecard” to collect various student and district data in one place, and set future benchmarks for improvement. He had to relaunch the scorecard after the initial product had data errors. A contractor’s mistake indicated scores in 11th-grade writing and science had doubled, when they had barely changed.

He also proposed, and then withdrew, a plan to launch a virtual school within the district. Caulk said he wanted to lure back students who had left the district for area charter schools, but withdrew the plan after criticism from Maine’s commissioner of education and Portland’s mayor.

Caulk has an annual salary of $137,500. The Lexington position is posted at between $235,000 and $255,000. The last superintendent there, Tom Shelton, left in December to be executive director of the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents.

“Our community asked us to find a superintendent with a record of success in an urban school district and documented results of consistently improving achievement for all students,” Fayette County Board of Education Chairman John Price said in a news release announcing the selection of Caulk and Breeden as finalists. “We are confident that as superintendent these two transformational leaders would put children at the center of every decision he or she makes, and rebuild trust and strengthen relationships with students, employees, families and the community at large.”

Before coming to Portland, Caulk worked in Philadelphia as an assistant superintendent in charge of a division with 36 schools and 16,500 students, more than twice Portland’s enrollment of roughly 7,000 students.

“I think he’s done a lot of work in the community. He’s been an engaging superintendent who understands equality in education,” said board member Pious Ali. “I’m proud to have had the opportunity to work with him.”

Board member Holly Seeliger said she was surprised by the announcement.

“I think it’s unfortunate that Manny is leaving us,” she said.

“I know Manny worked really hard and tried to make Maine work for him, but I don’t know if Maine was the best fit for him,” Seeliger said. “I hope we can find a superintendent with ties to Maine and some experience with Maine education.”

Emmanuel Caulk. Monday, June 15, 2015 at 9:20 am. This graduation season, I have addressed a total of 700 graduates from our city's four high schools: ...

Cell tower on Deering High roof undergoes tests after fish die in classroom

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - June 11, 2015  Author/Byline: Noel K. Gallagher, Staff Writer

Responding to some teachers’ concerns about health risks, the Portland School District hired a company to test the level of radio frequency emissions from a cell tower on the roof of Deering High School this week.

Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk said the teachers’ concerns were the first he’d heard regarding the tower, which has been in place since 2006. He ordered the tests after a biology teacher reported that fish she kept in Room 305 – located right below the tower – kept dying…


[Deering High biology teacher Polly Wilson] has been teaching marine ecology in Room 305 for about 16 years, always with tanks of fish and other living things. It was only three years ago that the fish started to die, she said.

This spring, the students used aluminum foil to shield the tops and sides of four aquariums containing comet-tailed goldfish from radio frequency waves.

“We left them in there over Memorial Day weekend, we came back and they were fine,” Wilson said. “At that point, we took one of the foil (cages) off and 36 hours later, the fish died.”

The other fish, in the three shielded aquariums, were fine and are still alive, Wilson said.

Her students started a blog – called “Why Do Fish Die in Room 305?” – where they recorded their findings. The home page has a photo of a fish belly-up in a tank, with a Post-it note reading: “Begin: 5/7 Fish alive … 5/11 dead.”

“Our class noticed how we were unable to keep goldfish alive. Eliminating all theories as to what might be causing the death (food, water, pH, nitrite and nitrate levels) we came to the conclusion that the cell tower located above our classroom may be affecting the lifespan of the fish,” students wrote in the blog.

For Wilson, the dying fish prompted her to abandon her classroom of 16 years and teach in a vacant room….

Emmanuel Caulk. Monday, May 18, 2015 at 9:00 am. We just celebrated Mother's Day, which became a national holiday 101 years ago. Congress initially ...

With tiny turnout, Portland voters pass school budget

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - May 12, 2015
  • Author/Byline: Noel K. Gallagher, Staff Writer
  • Section: Schools & Education
Portland voters approved the school district’s $102.8 million school budget Tuesday night, with fewer than 1,000 of the city’s roughly 54,000 registered voters casting ballots.

The vote was 653 for the budget, 317 against. The 970 voters represent less then 2 percent of those registered in Portland.

The budget, a 1.2 percent increase over the previous school budget, has been described as “modest and austere” by school Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk. It increases the school portion of Portland’s tax rate by 23 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, adding $46 to the annual tax bill for a $200,000 home…

Voter turnout for school budget referendums has been lower than for general elections. Last May, 1,492 or 2.9 percent of the city’s registered voters cast ballots in the school budget referendum.

Emmanuel Caulk. Monday, April 13, 2015 at 10:10 am. Maine is experiencing several of trends. For example, the state's population is aging, and we're facing ...

Portland school officials consider new start times

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - April 7, 2015  Author/Byline: Noel K. Gallagher, Staff Writer
Portland school officials are considering new start and end times for elementary and middle schools after some parents complained some start times were too early and that staggering end times would disrupt athletic schedules…

The district is changing school times because the board added 20 minutes to each school day beginning this fall. While some parents complained about the early start for elementary students, there were also concerns that the staggered middle school schedule, with different end times, would cause problems with after-school sports and access to athletic fields.

“We received several concerns, and I believe those concerns merit review,” Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk told the board.

The high school schedule, from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., remains unchanged.

Portland school board chair says district is ‘getting better all the time’

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - March 16, 2015  Author/Byline: Randy Billings, Staff Writer
Portland’s public school system is “in good shape and getting better all the time,” and it’s still committed to becoming the best small urban school district in the country by 2017, the head of the school board said in her State of the Schools address Monday night.

Sarah Thompson, who chairs the Portland Board of Public Education, told the City Council that the district continues to plan for facilities upgrades that have been studied over the years. The biggest challenge is rebuilding Hall Elementary School, which is lined up for state funding after being damaged by fire in 2012.

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Thompson also said the district is planning curriculum changes as the state moves toward adoption of the Common Core standards. “We are also increasing learning time,” she said.

She said the school budget proposed for 2015-16 is “austere and modest,” especially in light of uncertainty surrounding the state budget process.

Thompson said the District Scorecard developed by Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk is one example of how the school district is accountable and transparent.

While the District Scorecard highlights positive results for fifth-grade reading and writing and 11th-grade math and an increase in SAT scores, she said, third-graders who are black or economically disadvantaged trailed other groups.

“That’s important to know because third-grade reading ability is a key indicator of future academic success,” she said.

She noted that more than 26 percent of parents responded to a survey that was offered in English and seven other languages. More than 90 percent of those parents indicated that they felt the schools were safe and they felt respected.

Also, 50 percent of high schoolers participated in the survey, she said, and 91 percent found their courses challenging and 95 percent planned to graduate from high school.

Thompson also highlighted awards and certifications earned by the staff, and other initiatives, including the principal-for-a-day program, which puts business leaders in public schools, and an expansion of science and math education.

“Even with competition from charter schools, our schools offer the best opportunity for robust learning in science and math,” she said.

Emmanuel Caulk. Monday, March 16, 2015 at 12:10 pm. One of my core values is that it takes an entire community to ensure the success of our public schools.

Portland superintendent proposes $102.8 million school budget

Bangor Daily News Posted March 11, 2015, at 2:32 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk on Tuesday proposed a 2016 fiscal-year school budget that includes a spending increase of nearly $1.2 million, or 1.2 percent.

The total budget, which Caulk called “modest,” is nearly $102.8 million. Caulk presented the proposal to the school board, which unanimously sent it to the finance committee for review.
If adopted, the budget would result in a 2.3 percent increase in the school portion of the city’s property tax rates, adding about $23 in taxes per $100,000 of assessed value.

That’s about the same increase as the one last year, when a scaled-down school budget of $101.6 million was approved by voters.

After the meeting, Caulk said this year’s budget “puts students first, invests in staff and is fair to taxpayers.” The proposal reflects diminishing support from the state, but would continue the work the district has done since he arrived, according to Caulk.

“When you look at the revenue, the state decreased support and that shifts the balance to the taxpayers,” he said.

During the meeting, Caulk noted that Gov. Paul LePage’s proposed state budget would cut Essential Programs and Services funding by 6.5 percent, or $920,000. Without the EPS loss, the city tax increase would have been only 1.1 percent.

If the state still paid the costs of teacher pensions, as it had until shifting them to local school districts in 2013, the tax rate would have been “zero or less.”

“The funding from the state is so unpredictable; it’s been declining since my tenure,” Caulk said.
He said he believes the district is doing “everything right” in its financial stewardship, but as state funding shrinks, the budgeting process becomes “increasingly difficult.”

Personnel costs would increase 2.7 percent, or nearly $2.2 million, under next year’s budget, and would represent 79 percent of the total.

In addition to covering the cost of teacher retirement, the budget maintains current staff, class sizes and programs.

The budget calls for continued expansion of prekindergarten education. Spending for charter school tuition was removed from the budget, according to Caulk, in anticipation of a bill in the Legislature that would provide state funding. The budget also takes into account decreased debt service, he said.
Caulk said while there are always “difficult choices in wanting to do more” during the budget process, no single item took a major hit or gained major ground. He gave very few specifics about allocation of funding.

After review by the school board’s finance committee, the budget will return to the full board for public hearings, workshops and a decision on whether to forward it to the City Council. A public referendum on the budget is scheduled on May 12.

New school calendar

A new school calendar presented at the meeting calls for changes in the start and end times of the school day, in order to squeeze in an additional 20 minutes. Students at Deering, Portland and Casco Bay high schools will start their days half an hour later at 8:35 a.m. and finish at 3:05 p.m.

Students at Portland Arts and Technology High School will continue to start at 8 a.m. and finish at 1:30 p.m., because PATH classes include students from other school districts.

Students in most of the city’s elementary and middle schools would see earlier start times. Lyman Moore and Lincoln middle schools will run from 8:15 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. King Middle School will run from 7:55 a.m. to 2:25 p.m., to accommodate students who live on the islands.

East End, Longfellow, Lyseth and Presumpscot elementary schools will begin at 8:35 a.m. and end at 3:05 p.m. Hall, Riverton, Ocean Avenue and Reiche elementary schools will start at 8:55 a.m. and end at 3:25 p.m. The Bayside Learning Community’s school day will run from 8:15 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.

Schools may partner with Metro

The school district is proposing to partner with the Metro bus system this fall to transport students from Portland, Deering and Casco Bay high schools.

School board chairwoman Sarah Thompson said the proposal is for a three-year contract, under which students would ride at a discounted fare of 75 cents. The district would pay up to $160,000 for the service, while Metro will cover anything exceeding that.

She said the proposal accommodates the new school day, as students “won’t be dependent on a regimented yellow bus schedule.” Students will also have shorter bus rides, and buses will run every 10 minutes, according to Thompson.

This doesn’t mean the yellow buses would disappear, but would better address the growing transportation needs of special-needs students, she added.

Gregory Jordan, Metro’s general manager, said more than 80 percent of students live within a quarter of a mile from at least one Metro route.

Thompson said the proposal will give high schoolers greater access to transportation for after-class activities. Students would also be able to use Metro on nights and weekends, but during the summer would have to buy their own discounted passes.

Metro is developing a new route for students, Thompson added, which should be in place before the fall so parents can try it out.

Portland superintendent proposes 1.2 percent increase in school budget

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - March 10, 2015 Author/Byline: Noel K. Gallagher, Staff Writer

Portland Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk is proposing a $102.8 million school budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, a 1.2 percent increase over the current budget.

The budget reflects a drop in state funding of almost $1 million, based on Gov. Paul LePage’s proposed state budget, which is being debated in Augusta.

“This budget is modest and austere,” Caulk said at a School Board meeting Tuesday night. “I wish it could be more bold.”

The budget includes money to pay for two previously grant-funded teachers at East End Elementary School. It does not add or cut any positions. It also includes funds to expand a new Spanish immersion program, to allow the initial kindergarten class to continue with immersion in first grade, while adding a kindergarten class.

The proposed budget would increase the school portion of Portland’s tax rate by 23 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, adding $46 to the annual tax bill for a $200,000 home.

Caulk said the governor’s budget would cut the district’s budget by $920,000, or 6.5 percent. The district also is still adjusting for the added cost of funding teachers’ retirement, a change made two years ago by the LePage administration.

Without those two state-directed actions, Caulk said, the tax rate increase would have been zero.

“We’re doing our part,” Caulk said. “We need (the state) to be a partner in this endeavor, and stop shifting this burden to local taxpayers.” …

Deering High School names new football coach

Bangor Daily News (ME) - March 6, 2015 Author/Byline: Bangor Daily News
PORTLAND, Maine -- Jason Jackson has been hired as Deering High School's new head football coach.

"What impressed me most about Mr. Jackson is that he's interested in the success of student athletes not just on the field but in the classroom and in life. He understands that is what is important and matters most," Portland Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk said in a news release. Jackson said the job is a dream come true….

Legislation gives schools option to make up for snow cancellations

Kennebec Journal (Augusta, ME) - February 26, 2015 Author/Byline: Noel K. Gallagher, Portland Press Herald

AUGUSTA — With snowbanks still growing around the state, a bill allowing schools to add an hour to their regular school days to make up for days lost to snow cancellations got support from several educator groups Wednesday….

Some districts have a longer school year than the state minimum, allowing them more flexibility in dealing with snow days. That’s the case in Portland, the state’s largest district, which has had six snow days so far this year.

Because the district is scheduled for 180 student days, five more than the mandatory minimum, it would have to make up only one day so far this year, according to Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk.

“I expect enthusiasm will grow (for this bill) with every snowstorm,” said Bob Hasson, deputy executive director of the Maine School Management Association.

He noted administrators may have concerns about conflicts with after-hours clubs or sports or with bus schedules. “But I believe these can be worked out at the local level for those who choose this option.”

Portland School Board considering inverting start times

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - February 25, 2015 Author/Byline: Noel K. Gallagher, Staff Writer

Portland School Board members considering how to add 20 minutes to the school day say they want to explore a new option: making elementary schools start earlier and allowing high schools to start later.

The administration had suggested the reverse to accommodate a new schedule that begins in the fall.

“I really like the inversion of high school and elementary school” start times, Board President Sarah Thompson said at a workshop – at which there was no public comment – held after the board meeting Tuesday night. “And I think if we surveyed students, the high schoolers would say yes, too.”

High school now begins at 8 a.m. and ends at 2:10 p.m., while elementary schools begin at 8:55 a.m. and end at 3:05 p.m.

Under the district’s proposal, the high school day would run from 7:45 a.m. to 2:15 p.m.

Thompson asked the administration to report back to the board on flipping high school and elementary school start times. Several other board members said they supported that option, too.

The district’s now-retired transportation director, who was asked by Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk to evaluate five options for changing the school day, said flipping the high school and elementary school start times could work…

Education committee says state should pay for Maine teacher retirement costs

Bangor Daily News (ME) - February 23, 2015 Author/Byline: Nick McCrea, BDN Staff, Bangor Daily News

BANGOR, Maine -- Two years after local school districts were forced to shoulder some of Maine's teacher retirement costs, a Legislative committee recommended on Monday that the state pick up those expenses once again.

On Monday, the Legislature's Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs held a work session on LD 60, An Act to Ensure Proper Funding for Teacher Retirement. The bill, proposed by Rep. Walter Kumiega, D-Deer Isle, would repeal the law passed in 2013 that required school administrative units and private schools to pay for a portion of teacher retirements.

The committee voted 8-5 to send an "ought to pass" recommendation on to the full Legislature…

In 2013, the state shifted about $29 million in teacher retirement costs from its coffers to the school districts that employ those teachers. …

"Before [the] shift, the practice of the state paying the full employer share of teacher retirement costs had worked well for generations," said Emmanuel Caulk, superintendent of Portland schools. He said retirement costs at his school range from $1.3 million to $1.5 million per year.

"To meet these new costs for teacher retirement, struggling school districts are forced to potentially cut essential staff and programs, harming education and/or ask more of local property taxpayers," Caulk said…

Maine schools struggle to adjust for numerous snow days

Bangor Daily News (ME) - February 13, 2015 Author/Byline: Nick McCrea, BDN Staff, Bangor Daily News

BANGOR, Maine -- Frequent snowstorms are causing headaches for education administrators in Maine who have called off school multiple times and are struggling to squeeze in the required number of classroom days for the year.

Under state law, Maine schools must hold 175 days of classes per year. Most schools allot three to four snow days in their calendars. This year, many schools across the state already have hit or exceeded that limit, with a lot of winter left.

That means administrators will need to get creative or keep students in class into the summer break….

Portland schools have had six snow days but aren't in dire straights because they schedule 180 days for instruction instead of the required 175, according to Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk. Thus far, Portland only has one day to make up…

I am a single mother of two daughters enrolled in Portland’s public school district. I have made the mistake of being proper and biting my tongue for far too long about the district’s inept behavior when it comes to my children’s education and general well-being. I believed that by working with the staff and administration we could fix the clogs and snares in the system. And I tried.

It seems to me now that the system is broken. I have been advocating for both of my children to no avail. I have saved hundreds of e-mails, letters and other documents that clearly demonstrate incompetence, negligence and untruths. “Mom’s gone mad!” is a colossal understatement. It’s time to stand up for my family and speak.

My oldest daughter has albinism and is legally blind. She was born this way, so she has always had a 504 plan (federally mandated accommodations) or IEP (Individualized Education Program) in place. From the very beginning of her schooling, her needs and these plans have been documented and discussed at length with school administrators and teachers. Visual aids, an individual health plan and specially designed instruction are just a few examples of what is included in these plans.

Adding to her challenges, she also has heart disease, asthma, mitochondrial disease and immune-system problems. She has undergone many surgeries and requires a lot of medication and health supplements. Thankfully, she’s been doing well lately.

My youngest daughter is a bundle of energy. She is an amazing artist and loves to perform. Both of my children are thoughtful, caring and share love in terrific ways. Unfortunately, both also struggle with learning, for a variety of reasons, and this does make their lives and education more challenging.

Before I talk about the problems we have had, I want to acknowledge the efforts of some teachers and a few administrators who have sincerely tried to help my children — thank you. The love and talent you share is noticed, appreciated and felt by my daughters and me. Unfortunately, as the experiences I share here will show, all of your hard work simply isn’t enough — not for my children, nor for many other students who would benefit from special attention or personalized curricula.
My list of grievances…

To the school bus driver who dropped my legally blind six-year-old off in the middle of a sketchy neighborhood I often refer to as “Pedophile-ville,” on a busy street with no parent waiting: You should have been fired! Fortunately, my mail lady found her. She was hugging a stop sign and talking to a stranger.

To the staff who took an apathetic approach to a bully who was repeatedly teasing my disabled daughter: I asked for your help multiple times. Did you know he later smacked her in the face, pushed her down, pinched and continued to tease her? She became afraid to speak about it. She hid it from me because, after unsuccessfully seeking help from the principal, vice-principal and her classroom teacher, I decided to talk to him myself. I simply asked him to leave her alone. Big mistake. He became more aggressive, which ultimately showed my daughter what happens when she “tattles.” He continued to bully her and she says she will always be afraid of him.

To the gym teacher who let my legally blind child play goalie in a co-ed gym class: Do you think that allowing soccer balls to be kicked at my daughter was safe? After a ball hit her and broke her arm, you didn’t call for the nurse. You didn’t even give her an ice pack. Nobody phoned me when she was crying hysterically. Nobody did anything, even after she told her teacher she thought her arm was broken. Her little friends helped her turn the pages of her book in class and put her jacket and knapsack on when school was over. I found out about this when she got off the bus holding her broken arm and sobbing.

To the teacher who told my daughter she could no longer talk about her deceased dad in school during share-time because she was upsetting the other kids: Shame on you. I had spoken to you and the vice-principal about resources available for dealing with childhood grief. I also told you about a local organization that works with families, schools and communities on this issue. My daughter meant no harm. She was only trying to process her loss with the people she spends time with.

To the school nurse who sent me a letter telling me I needed to take my daughter to an eye doctor ASAP because she failed the vision screening and couldn’t read even the largest print with her glasses on: Really? She was the only visually impaired child in the entire school and had a 504 plan, which I discussed with you. This was her fourth year at your school. Do you really not remember sitting with me for two hours talking about her complex health and visual needs?

To the same nurse who phoned me when my daughter had an abnormal-sounding heart rhythm and dizziness: I asked you to take her blood pressure and was told you only had an adult-sized cuff and, furthermore, that cuff was broken. I have no words, but let me tell you — my blood pressure hit the roof!

To the administration that opted out of following the CDC guidelines that call for notifying the entire school when pertussis (whooping cough) is going around: Chronically ill children and babies can die from pertussis. My family was not notified of the risk at school. My daughter subsequently contracted whooping cough and became horribly sick. Her lungs were severely damaged. She could not run without coughing for a full year. I have e-mails that show you chose to only inform the families of third-graders about this outbreak. One of my children’s teachers, a new father at the time, had no idea my daughter had contracted whooping cough. Information vital to everyone involved with the school was kept from parents. I have heard a lot of talk about community from school officials, but when you fail to take these simple steps, you are endangering the community you serve.
To the special-education department that continually minimized my concerns and my daughter’s needs, lost visual-aid items that had been “ordered” multiple times, and even failed to show up at a mandated meeting: I simply don’t understand. All the lengthy discussions, the paperwork and the legal jargon were a waste of everyone’s time. Piles and piles of meaningless paperwork (some of which went “missing”) sit in stacks somewhere collecting dust. Every time I signed those papers I believed they were going to help my children. I feel tricked and cheated by the system, but it is my children who have truly suffered.

To the principal, to whose office I was forced to hand-deliver a doctor’s note because you’d failed to respond to my phone calls, e-mail and fax: How do you justify yourself? You disrespected me in front of my children that day when you talked down to me. You mocked the fact that a “Harvard” doctor had just diagnosed my daughter. Then you minimized the needs the doctor spelled out in the letter and failed to give the letter to the nurse. My daughter had just been diagnosed with an incurable disease! She had just spent a week in the hospital on IVs, hooked up to machines, and had undergone two surgeries! What did I do when I left your office? I found an attorney that I couldn’t afford. And, of course, I cried.

And, finally, to the superintendent: Shame on you for never responding to me. I thought I was clever when I finally managed to meet you last summer at a school function. I introduced myself and explained how I had tried to reach you through e-mails and phone calls multiple times. You said you hoped that you had responded to me, and I told you that no, in fact you had not. While shaking my hand and looking me in the eye, you asked me what you could do and I replied, “You can sit down and talk to me without my children around,” to which you agreed. I have e-mailed and called a number of times since then. No response.

I will always be active in my children’s education, but I cannot continue to pick up the ball every time the school drops it. I have my own job. My daughters strive for knowledge and wish to continue in their classes with their friends. They also want to be looked out for, to trust the adults in their school, and to be healthy and safe. I love and admire both my daughters’ resilience and courage, but I also worry about their future here in Portland.

School officials have told me to focus on the present and future. They say there’s nothing to be gained by bringing up past incidents and mistakes. I agree that re-living our past struggles is not a healthy choice, but nothing gained? I hope a better education for all Portland students can be gained from my story and my choice to go public.

Portland forum lays foundation for school budget talks

Tuesday, February 3, 2015 at 8:10 am

PORTLAND — A few members of the public turned out Jan. 29 to offer input on the development of the next School Department budget.

School Board Chairwoman Sarah Thompson said the forum in the Lyman Moore Middle School library was attended mostly by "a variation of staff who were also either parents or community members," Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk's staff, and a few people who were strictly parents or community members.

Thompson said Caulk went over the goals of the schools' Comprehensive Plan, which includes strengthening the academic core; stimulating progress of English Language Learners, students with disabilities, struggling learners, and gifted and talented students; innovation, and investing in infrastructure.

Thompson said these goals haven't changed since last year.

In terms of strengthening the core, she said there was discussion about "working on our mathematics program in the district and having a little bit more individualized learning accentuated to allow students to progress at their pace."

She said there was also discussion about the staff reflecting the diverse student body, and that there should be more recruitment possibilities both within Portland and beyond…

Portland schools to add e-cigarettes to smoking ban

Monday, January 26, 2015 at 11:30 am

PORTLAND — The School Board began updating its policies Jan. 20 by holding first readings of proposed new rules on service animals and tobacco use in schools.

The policies are scheduled to be voted on at the Feb. 3 meeting.

The policy prohibiting tobacco use now includes electronic cigarettes and electronic hookahs, School Board Chairwoman Sarah Thompson said, to reflect types of smoking that she said "you see society turning to."

She said there was not a sense of growing use of either of these products in schools, but the board is "updating policies to reflect current times," and to make sure all forms of tobacco use by students and faculty are banned in the schools.

Thompson said tobacco use first came to the board's attention eight months ago, when Deering High School students and the Health Center Leadership of Portland gave a presentation to the board, with suggested policy changes and consequences for violations.

Superintendent of Schools Emmanuel Caulk said the updated policy on tobacco use is the result of a national study that found increasing teen use of electronic cigarettes and hookahs.

At the time of the study, he said, Maine was one of 10 states that did not prohibit the sale to minors of electronic nicotine delivery systems. He said as the delivery system for nicotine changes, it's important that the board have a policy prohibiting minors from possessing, selling and distributing the products.

Caulk added while he hadn't seen an uptick in the use of these products in the schools, the national trend is an increase in the use of electronic nicotine delivery systems by teenagers.

"The fact that this number is up among teens from survey data is alarming," he said. "We want our students to be healthy and make good choices."

Thompson said there has been no policy on service animals in schools, but the board recognized the need to be prepared because the district serves "such a diverse group of students."

Sharon Pray, the district's director of student support services, said under the proposed policy only qualified students with documented disabilities can use a service animal, and the animal must be certified by the state.

Caulk said both policies are "proactive" and "forward thinking."

"As you look at our community and any community, you can anticipate that requests may come forward, and we want to make sure we have a policy to address that need," he said.

Superintendent's Notebook: Showing Portland its ROI on student achievement. Emmanuel Caulk. Monday, January 19, 2015 at 9:30 am. This is the time of year  ...

Portland district corrects errors in student performance report to school board

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - December 18, 2014 Author/Byline: Noel K. Gallagher, Staff Writer

The Portland school district has withdrawn student test-score data presented to the school board Tuesday, after the Portland Press Herald pointed out discrepancies between the data and scores reported by the state.

The spokeswoman for Portland Public Schools issued a new set of data Thursday and the corrected data was posted on the district’s website.

Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk noted that the overall conclusions from the data remain unchanged. “Our data shows that student performance is growing, and that the longer students stay with us in district schools, the better they do,” he said in a written statement.

The incorrect data showed that 11th-grade writing scores more than doubled, from a baseline of 22 percent proficient to 45 percent proficient, when in fact the correct baseline was 45 percent, meaning the score remained static. The data also showed that 11th-grade science scores had more than doubled from a 16 percent baseline to 34 percent, when in fact the correct baseline was 35 percent, meaning the score actually declined by a point.

The data is part of a new District Scorecard launched last year by Caulk. The initiative established a baseline score – arrived at by averaging results from the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years – and sets annual targets for improvements. In addition to test score data, it measures year-over-year progress and the percentage of graduates who enroll in college within a year of graduation.

However, the baseline data was incorrect in the 11th grade writing and science categories….

Caulk, in his written statement citing better student performance, noted that the district wants to improve the pace of growth.

“The data also shows that while our students are growing, in some cases they’re not growing fast enough. We’ve got to get them to grow at a faster rate,” Caulk said. “We plan to do that by implementing strategies that include investing in early education to make sure all students come to school ready for kindergarten; increasing students’ and families’ access to pre-kindergarten; improving literacy at the elementary level; increasing student learning time; continuing to extend the school year for students in primary grades who are reaching towards proficiency; and increasing high school graduation rates.”

Portland teachers’ new contract increases pay, class time

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - December 16, 2014 Author/Byline: Noel K. Gallagher, Staff Writer

The Portland School Board on Tuesday night approved a two-year contract with the teachers union that includes a 2 percent cost-of-living raise and increases class time for students and professional development time for teachers.

Also Tuesday, the school superintendent released the latest test and performance data for the district, showing mixed results.

Starting in the 2015-16 school year, students will have an additional 20 minutes of class a day, creating a 61/2-hour school day. The overall number of school days in the year will decrease to 178 days from 180 days, but overall students will be attending 46 additional hours of class over the course of the year because of the longer school day.

“The Portland Public Schools is a leader in the state with this increase in instructional time,” Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk said in a statement. The state requires that students attend a minimum of 175 instructional days a year.

Also starting in 2015-16, teachers will get 180 more minutes of professional development time each week, creating a 71/2-hour workday. But teachers will work fewer days overall – 183 – down from the current 187 days…

The latest test score data were released Tuesday as part of a new “District Scorecard” launched last year by Caulk that uses a baseline score averaging results from the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years, and setting annual targets for improvements…

Emmanuel Caulk. Monday, December 15, 2014 at 8:50 am. Holiday-season advertisements focus on all the stuff we can give or receive as gifts. However, you  ...

Still no statement on Deering football incident

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - December 9, 2014 Author/Byline: Staff report

An expected statement by the Portland school superintendent and the president of the NAACP Portland branch about a school investigation of an incident involving the former Deering High School football coach was not issued Tuesday.

Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk said he and Rachel Talbot Ross, president of the NAACP Portland branch, planned to issue a joint statement following a meeting they had scheduled for Monday, but had not done so by late Tuesday. He said on Tuesday the statement would be made available once it was ready.

Caulk and Talbot Ross were to meet Monday to discuss issues surrounding the investigation and its aftermath.

Their disagreement over the investigation the school district conducted into complaints against football coach Matt Riddell immediately preceded his resignation from the team the day before the Thanksgiving football game against Portland High School.

The exact nature of the alleged incident isn’t clear, since none of the parties involved has described what happened or what was said.

NAACP, Portland superintendent expected to address Deering football incident

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - December 8, 2014 Author/Byline: David Hench, Staff Writer
The superintendent for Portland schools said he planned to issue a joint statement with the president of the NAACP Portland branch after a scheduled meeting between the two on Monday, in the wake of an incident in November in which the football coach at Deering High School stepped down from his job.

No statement had been issued by Monday night.

Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk and Rachel Talbot Ross, president of the NAACP Portland chapter and state director for the civil rights organization, disagreed last month on an investigation the school district conducted into complaints against the coach. That disagreement immediately preceded Matt Riddell’s departure from the team the day before Thanksgiving, for what Riddell said were personal reasons.

Talbot Ross said at the time that the incident was brought to the attention of the NAACP because there was concern that an investigation into serious complaints had been handled “frivolously.”

The exact nature of the alleged incident isn’t clear, since none of the parties involved will describe what happened, what was said or who was present.

Caulk would not talk about the nature of the complaints or the investigation, saying it is a personnel matter. Talbot Ross did not respond to requests for comment on Monday, and Caulk said the two would issue a joint statement Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning, after their meeting.

In her initial comments before Thanksgiving, Talbot Ross said it was important for the district to determine how the alleged behavior occurred and how to take action to prevent such things from happening.

Caulk issued a statement last week about the coach’s decision to step down, saying he was limited in his ability to comment because personnel matters are confidential under state law. He said that confidentiality comes at a price.

“Unfortunately, our obligation to keep personnel matters confidential sometimes leads to unfounded speculation and innuendo, or the mistaken impression that something is being hidden,” Caulk said in the statement issued Thursday. “In this instance, the coach’s decision not to reapply was entirely voluntary.”

Riddell has previously declined to comment on the issue. He could not be reached by telephone Monday.

The school district denied a request filed by the Portland Press Herald under the state Freedom of Access law for documents in the investigation, saying they are personnel records.

Caulk did not address the NAACP’s specific concerns about the investigation of Riddell, but did say the school department treats allegations of improper conduct seriously.

“While I cannot discuss this matter specifically, I can say that when concerns about employees are brought to our attention, we conduct a thorough investigation in accordance with applicable policies, we reach conclusions and we take appropriate action that is necessary based on those conclusions,” he said. “We are not perfect, but we do not tolerate discrimination in any form, and we respond firmly when it occurs.”

The complaints, the investigation and the coach’s subsequent departure have created rifts among some parents, according to postings on social media.

In Thursday’s statement, Caulk pointed out that Portland schools are the state’s most diverse and that the district has worked hard to encourage cultural awareness and sensitivity in students and staff.

Before the complaints surrounding the Deering football program arose, Caulk had initiated staff training on different forms of bias and those programs will be expanded, including training on discrimination, harassment and bullying for coaches and athletic administrators, he said.

Portland schools chief decries 'unfounded speculation' about coach's sudden departure, insists 'we do not tolerate racial discrimination in any form'

Bangor Daily News (ME) - December 3, 2014 Author/Byline: Beth Brogan, BDN Staff, Bangor Daily News
PORTLAND, Maine -- Portland Superintendent of Schools Emmanuel Caulk on Wednesday responded to what he called "unfounded speculation and innuendo" surrounding the sudden departure of Deering High School football coach Matthew Riddell the night before the school's 103rd annual Thanksgiving Day game against Portland High School.

The superintendent said Riddell was not terminated, nor did he resign.

"He is simply not re-applying" for the stipended coaching position appointed annually, Caulk said.

Caulk said the school department was still conducting an internal investigation into an allegation made against Riddell when Riddell emailed school administrators just after 2:30 p.m. on Nov. 26, to notify them of his decision.

"As we discussed, two members of my family are very ill, and therefore, I will not be able to reapply to the team next year," Riddell wrote in the email provided to the Bangor Daily News by Caulk. "I also do not believe I will be at the game tomorrow Thank you for all you have done for me and the football program."

Ninety minutes after receiving Riddell's email, Caulk shared the news of his sudden departure with parents of Deering High football players via email. The email Caulk provided to the Bangor Daily News was designed to clarify "misinformation," the superintendent said.

On Tuesday, Caulk said Riddell was not coerced into his decision not to coach the final game of the season or not to reapply for the job next year.

Citing Maine laws surrounding personnel matters, the superintendent declined to discuss who lodged the complaint or its nature other than to say it was "very narrow in scope." When pressed, he would not elaborate other than to say that the subject of the investigation "would suggest it's very specific" as opposed to an ongoing problem.

But in a statement Wednesday about the investigation, Caulk wrote specifically about racial discrimination.

"I am proud of our record in addressing racial and cultural awareness and sensitivity among staff and students," he wrote. "We are not perfect, but we do not tolerate discrimination in any form, and we respond firmly when it occurs. Well before the Deering football issue was raised, I began initiatives to provide additional staff training with regard to racial and other forms of bias, and those initiatives will continue and expand. Those efforts will include training on discrimination, harassment and bullying for all coaches and athletic administrators in the Portland schools."

Reached Tuesday at his home, Riddell declined to comment on his departure.

Caulk said that he learned of the allegation against Riddell on Veterans Day. He said he replied in person to the complainant the following day, notifying the person that the school would investigate the allegation.

The superintendent said such an investigation typically lasts seven to 10 business days in order to allow facts to be collected.

"We made certain not to engage in any rush to judgment or to do anything that was incendiary," he said.

But before the investigation was completed, Riddell notified the school district that he would not re-apply for the job, and would not coach the Thanksgiving Day game.

"He said he thought the assistant coach could handle the last game," Caulk said. "To my knowledge it was voluntary. To my knowledge it was not related to this investigation."

The superintendent said the investigation continued "because we have integrity and because we take all allegations seriously." That investigation has now concluded, but Caulk would not release the findings.

"We acted on it, we didn't sweep it under the rug or try to bury it," he said.

Caulk said he was not aware of any formal complaint filed by the NAACP about Riddell, nor was he contacted about the allegation by the NAACP. But he said he spoke with "NAACP leadership" Tuesday evening, "and we are on the same page with respect to our collective work of ensuring racial equity."

Rachel Talbot Ross, state director of the Maine NAACP, did not respond to phone calls and emails on Tuesday and Wednesday.

"We have had a very positive relationship with the NAACP for years," he said. "We're currently working together with the city and the United Way on racial equity. At Portland Public Schools, and in the city of Portland, as the most diverse school district in Maine, and the most diverse city in Maine, we hold ourselves up to be leaders in racial equity."

Riddell had coached the team for just more than a year. In September 2013, former Deering football coach Scott Parsons resigned after he was ejected from a losing game against Massabesic High School, the Forecaster reported.

A guard and linebacker who graduated from Lewiston High School in 1987, Riddell has more than 20 years coaching experience, including with Bonny Eagle High School, the Maine Sabers and the Southern Maine Raging Bulls, the Forecaster reported.

The school board met Tuesday night, including in executive session, but Caulk said Wednesday that neither Riddell's departure nor the investigation were discussed

Portland officials withhold findings from probe of Deering football coach

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - December 1, 2014 Author/Byline: Noel K. Gallagher, Staff Writer
The Portland School District is withholding results of its recently concluded investigation into an alleged incident involving former Deering High football coach Matt Riddell.

“I can’t share the findings due to this being a personnel matter,” Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk wrote in an email late Friday, two days after Riddell resigned.

After a swearing-in ceremony for new school board members on Monday, Caulk refused to answer any questions, such as when the investigation ended, who investigated, the nature of the investigation, and whether it ended because there was a finding or because the person under investigation resigned.

“I’ll respond by email,” he told a Portland Press Herald reporter before walking away. Caulk hadn’t emailed by late Monday night.

The exact nature of the alleged incident isn’t clear, since none of the parties involved will describe what happened, what was said or who was present.

The Maine state director of the NAACP characterized the incident, which was brought to the NAACP’s attention by the parent of a Deering football player, as a matter of “grave concern,” and said the investigation by the district was handled “frivolously.”

Caulk said in his email Friday that “we take all allegations seriously and investigate them fully.”

Rachel Talbot Ross, state director of the NAACP and president of the Portland branch, said the parent contacted the NAACP about two weeks ago. Caulk said he got a complaint on Nov. 11 and announced the next day that there would be an investigation.

Talbot Ross did not return several phone calls and an email left over several days.

Last week, she said the NAACP contacted the school administration and was told of the investigation.

“There was some concern by us on the pace of the investigation,” she said. “While things may be resolved tentatively, there should be expectations for the school department to conduct an investigation in a more timely and professional manner.

“The situation was of grave concern, yet I feel the school administration took it frivolously. There are deeper issues such as how it occurred and how to take action to prevent such things from happening,” she said.

Riddell said Monday that the district had not given him the results of its investigation. Riddell was hired to coach as a contract employee last winter, and is not a member of the faculty.

“I don’t have the official findings, no. But I have a good idea of what they are,” said Riddell, who resigned Wednesday on the eve of the school’s annual Thanksgiving Day game against Portland High. On Monday, he said he resigned for personal reasons.

Riddell would not comment on the matter further, saying he plans to consult an attorney to “find out my options.”

Caulk has said that if a person challenges the findings of a district investigation, the matter could go before the school board.

Members of the school board would not discuss the alleged incident Monday, but the board did add an executive session to its Tuesday meeting that includes a discussion of a personnel issue. Caulk would not confirm if the item is related to the district’s investigation of Riddell.
  • Caption: Portland School Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk is not revealing findings concerning former Deering High School football coach Matt Riddell. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer Former Deering High football coach Matt Riddell said Monday that the school district has not given him the results of its investigation of him

Deering High’s head football coach resigns on eve of Thanksgiving Day game

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - November 26, 2014 Author/Byline: Tom Chard, Staff Writer
Deering High football coach Matt Riddell resigned on the eve of the school’s annual Thanksgiving Day game against Portland High amid a school department investigation into an alleged incident brought to the attention of the NAACP.

The state’s NAACP director said Wednesday that she had received a complaint from the parent of a Deering player about an alleged incident involving the coach, and said the school department’s investigation has been handled “frivolously.”

Riddell, when contacted Wednesday, would not confirm he has stepped down, but Portland Schools Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk said Riddell has resigned because of family matters unrelated to the investigation.

“The reason he cited (for his resignation) was to care for a family member who is ill,” Caulk said.

Rachel Talbot Ross, state director of the NAACP and president of the Portland branch, said her office had been contacted about an alleged incident involving Riddell. The complaint was brought forth two weeks ago by a Deering football player’s parent, although Ross would not offer specifics about the complaint.

“We notified the school administration and understood they were in the process of conducting an investigation,” Ross said.

“There was some concern by us on the pace of the investigation. While things may be resolved tentatively, there should be expectations for the school department to conduct an investigation in a more timely and professional manner.

“The situation was of grave concern, yet I feel the school administration took it frivolously. There are deeper issues such as how it occurred and how to take action to prevent such things from happening.”

Caulk notified Portland School Committee members about Riddell’s resignation and the investigation via email Wednesday afternoon. “The investigation is pending and it will be completed based on the allegations,” Caulk wrote.

It’s the second incident this fall involving a Deering High team. In a soccer game Oct. 7 at Scarborough High, slurs allegedly were directed by Scarborough fans toward Deering players, several of whom are immigrants from war-ravaged countries. The respective superintendents ordered independent investigations to prevent further incidents.

Caulk said at the time: “The Portland Public Schools is proud to be Maine’s most diverse school district. Our diversity is one of our strengths and we will not tolerate any aspersions against our students because of it.”

Riddell’s resignation marks the second time in 14 months that Deering has lost its head football coach. Scott Parsons was fired in 2013 after a comment he made to an official after a loss to Massabesic High. Riddell was appointed interim head coach and was hired as the full-time coach after that season. Riddell is not a teacher at Deering High School.

“It’s another difficult thing for us to handle as we look forward to Turkey Day,” Deering senior Ryan Rarn said of Riddell’s resignation.

Deering (4-5) meets Portland (6-4) for the 103rd time on the holiday at 10:30 a.m. Defensive coordinator Rob Susi will be the acting head coach for Deering.

Maine prep coach resigns on eve of Thanksgiving game amid NAACP probe

By Cam Smith, USA TODAY High School Sports

Deering football coach Matt Riddell resigned on Thanksgiving eve. He cited family illness, but his resignation is clouded by an ongoing NAACP investigation into comments he made toward a player — Deering Football

A high school football coach in Maine has resigned from his post, though the true reasons why remain to be determined.

As reported by the Portland Press Herald, Deering head football coach Matt Riddell told Portland Schools Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk on Wednesday that he needed to resign to care for an ailing family member. According to other outlets, Riddell also told Caulk that he would not return next season.

His decision to step down comes less than 24 hours before Deering is to face off against Portland in the two schools’ annual holiday rivalry game, the only Thanksgiving Day game played in the state of Maine.

According to the Press Herald, Riddell is the subject of an ongoing investigation by the NAACP, which received complaints about Deering’s behavior in connection with a player. The Maine branch of the NAACP was told that the Portland School District launched an investigation into the incident, but there were complaints about how seriously that investigation was taken.

“We notified the school administration and understood they were in the process of conducting an investigation,” Rachel Talbot Ross, the state director of the NAACP, told the Press Herald.

“There was some concern by us on the pace of the investigation. While things may be resolved tentatively, there should be expectations for the school department to conduct an investigation in a more timely and professional manner.

“The situation was of grave concern, yet I feel the school administration took it frivolously. There are deeper issues such as how it occurred and how to take action to prevent such things from happening.”

In Riddell’s absence, Deering will be led by defensive coordinator Rob Susi in the team’s Thanksgiving face off against Portland. You can get more on the historic rivalry via our Gannett partners at Portland NBC network WCSH.

Colin Ellis. Friday, November 21, 2014 at 3:20 pm. PORTLAND — Superintendent of Schools Emmanuel Caulk has had his contract extended to June 30, 2019.

Superintendent's Notebook: Opportunities for parents to partner in education. Emmanuel Caulk. Monday, November 17, 2014 at 10:00 am. Families are our ...

SeXXX Education
How Maine schools open doors to porn

Public schools in Maine pioneered the use of personal computers in the classroom. When the Maine Learning Technology Initiative, commonly known as the “laptop program,” launched in 2002, Maine became the first state in the nation — and home to one of the first education systems in the world — to put computers in the hands of every middle school student.

Over the past decade, Maine’s laptop program has been expanded to include high school students and extended to allow the use of school computers at home and elsewhere, even on weekends. With the introduction of iPad tablets this year, thousands of Maine students now have the very latest portable computing technology at their fingertips 24/7, including unrestricted and effectively unmonitored Internet access off school grounds.

These developments also put Maine at the forefront of what’s been called “one of the fastest-moving, most global experiments ever unconsciously conducted,” an experiment that unwittingly asks what happens when teens and pre-teens are given free, unlimited access to a limitless supply of pornography…

The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), passed by Congress in 2000, requires schools and libraries that receive discounted online access through a federal program to block or filter sites considered “obscene” or illegal. But CIPA only applies to browsing on school property. As soon as they step off campus, school-issued laptop or tablet in hand, maintaining kids’ online safety becomes their parents’ problem.

Problem is, most parents do not understand all the ways these devices can access the Internet, or how easy it is for kids to erase their digital footprints. In Portland, the state’s largest school district, school officials do a poor job educating parents about this issue, in part because they don’t understand the technology themselves. Their best advice is a warning that only causes more anxiety: Do not leave your child alone with this machine

School board member Justin Costa referred questions to Peter Eglinton, a former school board chairman who joined the district’s administration two years ago as its chief operating officer, at a starting salary of $115,000. Eglinton blew off numerous requests for comment, as did Superintendent Emmanuel “Manny” Caulk, who was hired last year at a starting salary of $137,500. Both claimed they were too busy to answer questions by phone or in person; questions e-mailed to Eglinton were ignored.

Caulk e-mailed a brief statement to The Bollard that said the district “follows policies similar to those of many other districts,” “takes precautions to supervise” students’ Internet use, and attempts to “educate students about appropriate use of this resource.

“We do our best to filter content in accordance with federal and state requirements,” he continued. “However, the district cannot reasonably prevent all instances of inappropriate computer use by students. We count on parents and guardians to be our partners in teaching their children how to be responsible digital citizens.”

In fact, school officials in Portland have tried and failed, miserably, to do much more than they are currently doing to control students’ online activities. In the spring of last year, two months before Caulk was chosen to succeed Jim Morse as superintendent, the district let it be known that it was installing Internet filtering software on all the Dell laptops then provided to high school students, and planned to do the same in the fall to the Apple MacBooks given to middle schoolers.

As reported in the Portland Press Herald, the software was installed specifically to block access to “pornography, social networking sites and video streaming sites.” The decision to purchase and install the software was made administratively, with no discussion or vote by the school board and no opportunity for public comment. The paper said the filtering was done at the request of “many parents and teachers.” …

What parents can do 

It’s easy for people like Superintendent Caulk to say parents have to be “partners” in the effort to protect kids online. In practice, the challenge of doing so can be enormous.

First of all, adults need to know how and where school-issued devices can connect to the Internet, how browsing history can be erased or evaded, and what the school is capable of doing to limit or monitor online activity. If school board members and principals don’t know the answers to these questions, it’s not reasonable to expect that parents do….

As a last resort, parents can simply refuse to allow their child to take the laptop or tablet home — an option Caulk noted in the brief statement he provided. By doing so, your kid may be stigmatized by peers whose parents trust them with the cool new device, and any educational benefits bestowed by off-campus use would be lost…

Alleged racist taunts mar Scarborough soccer match

Thursday, October 30, 2014 at 4:50 am

SCARBOROUGH — Alleged racist language at a recent high school soccer game has prompted investigations by Scarborough and Portland school superintendents, both of whom denounced the behavior.

Parents and others charge that racial slurs and insults were directed toward members of the Deering High School boys’ soccer team during an Oct. 7 game against home team Scarborough, spurring the investigations.

A joint press release from the superintendents' offices said that support has been made available for the Deering players, and that “appropriate action” has been taken to ensure the behavior does not occur again.

“The Scarborough Public Schools and the Portland Public Schools strongly denounce any and all student or sports fan behavior that could be considered inappropriate, harassing, or bigoted and any such behavior will not be tolerated at any school event,” the release read.

While the insults reportedly came from the Scarborough stands, Portland Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk said in the release that he heard nothing to indicate that the Scarborough players took part. 
According to Deering coach Joel Costigan, insults during the varsity game included shouts of "go back to Africa and eat a banana” and “I can smell you from here.” An American flag was also waved amid chants of "USA."

Scarborough Athletic Director Michael LeGage said that the American flag has been present on both sides of the field at past games, and that the behavior mimics cheering at international soccer matches.

But while flag waving is common in professional soccer, Costigan said, “given the context of the racial comments made throughout the night, it would seem a rather odd coincidence if this were not orchestrated."

“While it creates (a) great environment to have an active fan section, these behaviors are inexcusable, ignorant, and racist, and go beyond a friendly rival ‘game environment,’” Costigan said.  

Enrollment at Deering, one of three public high schools in Portland, includes students of diverse ethnic backgrounds.

A Deering parent, Todd Brennan, said he was grateful for the presence of diversity in his son’s education, and that he was “disgusted” by the behavior at the game. 

“One of the biggest assets to having my son go to Deering High is the ethnic diversity he is exposed to and is integrated with,” Brennan said. “He has embraced it and as a result has developed into a caring and respectful young man. I am eternally grateful for that.” 

Caulk, who is black, expressed similar sentiments in the release.

“The Portland Public Schools is proud to be Maine’s most diverse school district,” he said. “Our diversity is one of our strengths and we will not tolerate any aspersions against our students because of it.”

Caulk also praised Scarborough for “swiftly” handling the incident. LeGage, who issued an apology to Portland officials, said that the incident will be used to “provide a learning opportunity” for Scarborough students.

Maine school chiefs denounce alleged racial slurs at soccer game - Scarborough fans allegedly directed derogatory comments at the Deering boys' team.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - October 29, 2014 Author/Byline: Steve Craig, Staff Writer

School superintendents in Scarborough and Portland have investigated and denounced alleged racial slurs directed at Deering High boys’ soccer players by Scarborough students at a game this month.

The incidents under investigation took place at the Oct. 7 game at Scarborough High.

“Comments included ‘Go back to Africa,’ and an America flag being waved in the crowd of spectators drew speculation that the USA chant from Scarborough fans were intended to draw attention to the (Deering) players’ places of origin,” according to a joint news release issued by the schools’ superintendents.

The superintendents ordered independent investigations and have taken actions to support Deering players and stop any future inappropriate behavior by Scarborough fans.

“This type of report is indeed very disappointing and such discriminatory behavior will absolutely not be tolerated,” Scarborough Superintendent George H. Entwhistle said in the release. “Steps have and will be taken to ensure that any such behavior will not happen again.”

Portland Public Schools Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk said there was no evidence Scarborough players acted inappropriately. “The Scarborough student athletes and coaches conducted themselves in a sportsmanlike manner,” he said in the release.

Scarborough Athletic Director Michael Legage’s investigation of the allegations “was inconclusive,” according to the news release. His report was shared with Portland officials. In it, Legage reported the American flag and USA chant have been present at other games, used by fans of both Scarborough and Scarborough opponents.

Scarborough’s students sit opposite the team benches. They could clearly be heard chanting “USA, USA” during the game.

Deering High Coach Joel Costigan said Wednesday he heard the USA chants and did not think much of them at the time. The next day several of his players reported to school officials that some taunts were racist. Also, Deering parents reported they heard the Scarborough students use slurs while adults in the section laughed or said nothing, Costigan said.

On a videotape of the game, one fan could be heard yelling at a particular player, “I can smell you from here,” Costigan added.

Several of Deering’s players are immigrants, many from war-ravaged countries.

“My kids have dramatic stories and have seen so much, war in general, that they’re fleeing from,” Costigan said. “I would like to see some education about that but the biggest thing is I want to make sure my kids are going to go to a game and not experience that.”

Caulk praised Entwhistle for “swiftly conducting an investigation and denouncing it.”

“The Portland Public Schools is proud to be Maine’s most diverse school district,” Caulk was quoted in the release. “Our diversity is one of our strengths and we will not tolerate any aspersions against our students because of it.”

It is possible Deering will play at Scarborough in the Western regional semifinal on Saturday. That will happen if top-seeded Scarborough beats No. 8 Marshwood on Wednesday afternoon. Scarborough won the Oct. 7 game, 2-0.

Two seats on Portland School Board contested - At stake in the Nov. 4 election are a citywide at-large seat and the seat representing District 4.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - October 28, 2014 Author/Byline: Noel K. Gallagher, Staff Writer

Political veteran John Eder, active most recently in efforts to save Congress Square Plaza, is taking on local businessman Gene Landry for a citywide at-large seat on the Portland School Board in the Nov. 4 election.

In a second School Board race, political newcomers Rebecca Wartell and Stephanie Hatzenbuehler are competing for the District 4 seat being vacated by Justin Costa, who is running for the City Council….

The Portland School Board is the largest in the state, with a $102 million budget and more than 7,000 students. School Board members regularly spend a significant amount of time on the budget, curriculum issues, concerns about aging infrastructure and meeting the needs of a diverse student body.

More than half the students qualify for free and reduced lunch, an indicator of reduced family income, and 32 percent of students primarily speak a language other than English at home. The district is also in contract talks with the teachers union now, and is facing a major renovation plan for several elementary schools in the district.

The district employs 1,225 people, including 571 teachers and more than 30 administrators.

In the at-large seat race, the two candidates differ in their views on the current board and school administration. Landry, who is running for a second time, is generally supportive of the board and Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk’s work in recent years.

Eder, by comparison, is advocating for change.

“I’m really concerned that public education is on the ropes in Portland,” said Eder, a Green Independent who served two terms in the Maine House of Representatives in the 2000s. He currently is outreach group director for a political consulting group, Nonstop Grassroots.

Eder said he worries about middle-class families moving to the suburbs when their children reach school age, district work being contracted out to vendors, and the current administration expanding its ranks while teaching positions and classroom resources are cut.

“This board has been abdicating their responsibilities,” Eder said. “Policy is made in the budget, and this school committee did not put its fingerprints on this budget. … The board should not just be doing the will of the administration, but scrutinizing the administration.”

Eder said he was also concerned about the threat of charter schools, and the standardized testing required by Common Core. Both, he said, are a move toward the privatization of public education.

“That’s going to be a watchword for me: privatization,” he said…

Superintendent's Notebook: Great leaders make great schools. Emmanuel Caulk. Monday, October 13, 2014 at 10:50 am. Each year, Congress passes a ...

Portland program for troubled students moves downtown, but one parent calls it a 'warehouse'

Bangor Daily News (ME) - October 3, 2014 Author/Byline: Seth Koenig, BDN Staff, Bangor Daily News

PORTLAND, Maine -- Portland Public Schools' former West Program has a new name and a new home, making it more stable and more accessible, school officials say.

But even after the school department spent $3.6 million acquiring and renovating the three-story former Goodwill Industries building at 353 Cumberland Ave. -- in part to accommodate the former West Program -- some parents have misgivings about the program's new home…

Searway said the program currently has about 27 students, with a full capacity of 48, and that no class has more than eight students. The students are referred to Bayside only after they've shown they struggle both with mainstream classrooms and individualized learning programs within Portland's other schools.

She said Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk secured grant money from L.L. Bean to help build a new outdoor play area over approximately 60 percent of what's now the facility's Cumberland Avenue parking lot….

Portland’s superintendent smackdown

September 11, 2014 Politics

Bangor Daily News

Portland Superintendent Emmanuel “Manny” Caulk got what can only and justly be described as a “smackdown” last week for trying to start an online-education program, run by a private corporation and paid for with public money, without the approval of the public.

I don’t know what’s more disturbing: Caulk’s botched attempt to bypass the school board, parents and taxpayers to launch his ill-conceived plan this fall, or that his motivation for doing so seems to have been purely financial — a scheme to game the state’s system for distributing education aid, using students like peas in a sidewalk shell con.

Caulk unveiled the outlines of his plan during a school board workshop on Sept. 2. The initiative would give middle and high school students the option of taking all their classes online, through a “virtual instruction” program provided by Pearson PLC — a giant multinational corporation, based in London, whose Baltimore-based subsidiary, Connections Education LLC, is one of the largest sellers of virtual-education products in the country.

Portland students already have that option: Maine Connections Academy, the state’s new virtual charter school, which also uses curricula, software and other educational materials and services sold by Connections Ed. Seven students reportedly ditched Portland’s school district for MCA this year, each effectively taking $7,000 worth of state aid with them — most of which ultimately ends up in Pearson’s pockets.

Portland’s program would have had “major similarities” to Maine Connections Academy, Caulk said, and was expressly created to try to lure those seven students, and their state aid, from the state’s e-school back to the city’s system. Caulk planned to pay Pearson $4,250 per e-pupil, and after covering about $750 in related expenses, he figured the district would be up two grand per kid.

Board members were taken aback. “Honestly, I don’t have a sense of what concretely I’m looking at,” said board member Justin Costa, as quoted by the Press Herald in a front-page story. “I feel like this is a pretty profound shift in how we provide education, and we’re being asked to outsource this….” Board members asked whether students currently enrolled in the district could also choose to take virtual classes, rather than the real ones, for some subjects or all of them.

Caulk refused to answer their questions at the workshop, saying he’d “digest” them and get back to the board later this month. But the Portland schools’ chief academic officer, David Galin, told board members the district’s policy is simple and clear: if online classes are available to some, they must be available to all.

Caulk reportedly told the board this “pilot program,” which did not yet have any students aboard, doesn’t need their approval anyway — it’s a “curriculum issue” under the administration’s sole purview.

That’s when Manny got smacked. The next day, Mayor Mike Brennan spoke out against the program, criticizing the idea of paying a private corporation to provide public education. State Education Commissioner Jim Rier did the math on what could happen if all Portland students could opt for online ed, and informed Caulk his district would stand to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in state funding.

By Thursday, the super scrapped his not-so-super plan and pledged to work with state lawmakers to pass a more equitable state-aid formula for districts that lose students to cyberspace.

This dust-up is done for now, but the war over virtual education in Maine has only just begun. Pearson and the other politically connected online-ed peddlers aren’t content to scoop up seven students here, five from another town, two or three in the rural district down the road. They’re banking on profiting from thousands of Maine kids in the years to come, the vast majority of whom likely don’t learn best by being isolated from their peers and human teachers, staring at a screen in search of wisdom.

It’s frightening how easily a highly respected (and paid) school official like Caulk will drink the e-Kool-Aid in a scramble to save a few thousand bucks. And scarier still that he almost got away with it.

OUR OPINION: Online learning could augment public schools - Different teaching models key to education in 21st century.

Kennebec Journal (Augusta, ME) - September 8, 2014 

The superintendent of Portland Public Schools tried to introduce a little innovation to his district this fall, but strong resistance from other officials convinced him to reconsider. He probably won’t be trying that again anytime soon.

Emmanuel Caulk told the school board last week that he planned to create an online program for Portland to compete with the Maine Virtual Academy, a new, online-only charter school. Caulk, however, withdrew his plan from consideration after he couldn’t answer some basic questions about how it would work. Although he should have done his homework, this idea did not deserve the harsh response it got.

Online learning is not for everyone, but what is? We all know that traditional schools leave some students behind, because they can’t keep up with the pace, or the pace is too slow, or the classes in which they are most interested are not available.

No one is surprised to hear that one type of student can thrive in the same class that another student hates. Why should we say that online education won’t work because it’s not right for most students?

The answer is politics. Online education has become a tool used by Gov. Paul LePage and other anti-government politicians who want to give public money to for-profit corporations that would educate students for a fee without significant public oversight. This is the model used by the Maine Virtual Academy, which has an exclusive contract with a company that provides not only instruction materials but also trains and supervises teachers.

These kinds of schools suck money out of public school budgets (which was the problem that Caulk was trying to address) and ship it out of state.

So it’s understandable that people, including Portland Mayor Michael Brennan, objected to an idea that appears to validate and strengthen a flawed funding model. People who are dedicated to preserving and improving the public school system, keeping funds within school district budgets and employing teachers and other educators who are protected by collective-bargaining contracts don’t want to join forces with the people who want to privatize education and crush unions…

School districts explore own online program to compete with Maine's virtual charter schools

Bangor Daily News (ME) - September 7, 2014 Author/Byline: Nell Gluckman, BDN Staff, Bangor Daily News

BANGOR, Maine -- A week into the school year, Maine's first virtual charter school has enrolled close to 300 students, many of whom would otherwise be attending their community's traditional public schools.

In response, some school districts have explored creating virtual programs to keep students from leaving their brick-and-mortar schools for the virtual charter and taking state and local funds with them.

Both the Portland and Lewiston school districts have proposed using Connections Academy, the same company that is used by the virtual charter school that opened this week, to create an online program within their districts.

"We need to increase the number of pathways by which our students can be successful," said Lewiston Public School Superintendent Bill Webster. "We have students who have dropped out, left Lewiston schools or gone to charter schools because they have not found the pathway that works for them."

The Lewiston School Board will vote on whether to move forward with the plan at their meeting on Monday.

Bangor School Department Superintendent Betsy Webb said she was not looking into the possibility.

Portland Public Schools Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk proposed a plan but dropped it when it did not gain support from the school board, the Portland Press Herald reported.

Caulk was not available to comment on Friday.

Webster said he learned that creating a virtual school within his district was possible when he was contacted by Connections Academy about two weeks ago. Under this proposal, he would pay the company about $4,000 per student who enrolls in the program.

Lewiston gets $5,927 for each student in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade and $6,437 for high school students through the state's funding formula, so the district is likely to save money if the program is approved by the Lewiston School Board and students enroll.

As of Sept. 2, there were three students from the Lewiston Public Schools who were enrolled at Maine Connections Academy, the new virtual charter school. Four students from Bangor and seven from Portland enrolled.

Connections Academy was paid to support 25 virtual charter schools in 23 states in the 2013-14 school year, according to its website.

The company is owned by Pearson PLC, a London-based, publicly traded publishing company that is responsible for many standardized tests and textbooks used in the U.S….

Portland superintendent scraps plan to offer virtual classes - Emmanuel Caulk’s proposal to provide online instruction to keep students from leaving for a charter school failed to draw support.

Kennebec Journal (Augusta, ME) - September 4, 2014 Author/Byline: Noel K. Gallagher, Portland Press Herald

Portland Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk said Thursday he is abandoning his plan to offer virtual classes to certain students in the school district beginning this fall.

Caulk’s decision comes after the city’s mayor said he opposed the program, the state’s top education official warned of its financial implications, and School Board members raised numerous questions about it that Caulk had yet to answer.

Caulk said he pulled the program “given the events that have unfolded.”

“I have no intent to move forward with (the virtual instruction program) without the board’s support,” he wrote in an email to School Board members.

Caulk had touted the online instruction program as a way to convince seven students who had enrolled at the state’s first virtual charter school to return to the Portland district, which he said would save almost $50,000 in state education aid.

The program would have been open to students in grades 7-12 and would have used teachers and course work provided by Pearson, the same for-profit vendor that is supplying an online curriculum to the state’s first virtual charter school, Maine Connections Academy, which opened this week.

The state provides $7,000 per student in education aid, which goes to the virtual school if a student enrolls there. For each student lured away from Maine Connections and into Portland’s online program, the district would have paid Pearson $4,250. Other expenses would have pushed the district’s total cost to $5,000 per student in the online program, leaving the remaining $2,000 in state aid to the district, Caulk said.

On Wednesday, Mayor Michael Brennan said he was opposed to the program because it would have had the district partner with a for-profit company to provide teachers and curriculum.

State Education Commissioner Jim Rier had warned that the program could cost the district hundreds of thousands of dollars if opened to all students. A student moving from a regular classroom to the virtual program would cost the district $4,250 a year and generate no additional state aid. And Portland Chief Academic Officer David Galin said this week that the virtual option would have to be offered to all students, not just those who had left for the virtual school.

School Board members questioned the specifics of the program, with some saying they had been given too little time and too few specifics to evaluate it.

Caulk said he would support upcoming legislative efforts by Maine Senate President Justin Alfond, D-Portland, who had a conference call Thursday afternoon with Brennan and Caulk.

Alfond said he planned to bring back two charter school-related bills, both of which failed in the last session. One would create a state-run virtual charter school, and the other would spread the costs of charter schools among all the state’s school districts. Currently, charter schools are funded by state aid that comes from the district where the student lives, so districts near charter schools tend to lose higher amounts of state funding.

“The state charter law is moving on in years and we’re starting to see the effects and you’re starting to see some real patterns,” Alfond said, when asked why the legislation might have a better chance of success in the upcoming session. “I think the patterns will push legislators on both sides of the aisle” to support the measures.

After talking to Alfond, Caulk said he was “assured there was a legislative path forward.”

“In the last 24 hours, this has created a larger issue around the impact of individual districts funding charter schools,” he said. “I think this is going to spur the legislative action that did not come to pass at the end of the legislative session in June.”

A bipartisan group of lawmakers proposed the state-run virtual school, which was modeled on successful state-run virtual charter schools such as those in Vermont and New Hampshire. Gov. Paul LePage vetoed it over a provision that would have frozen the approval of other virtual charter schools while the state-run academy got started.

The idea of having all the state’s school districts contribute an equal amount to fund charter schools also has had broad support, including from members of the Maine Charter School Commission, which oversees the charter schools.

Maine now has six charter schools, which are publicly funded but operate independently of public school districts. The state has a cap of 10 charter schools until 2021.

School Board Chairwoman Sarah Thompson said Thursday she was glad to see the program put on hold.

“It’s not our decision to make, but it’s not a good move to do something where you see there are still so many questions from the board,” Thompson said. “I think that Manny took that into consideration. But I do give him credit for thinking creatively. That’s what we hired him to do.”

Superintendent participates in ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
  • Portland Press Herald
Portland Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk participates in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge at King Middle School in Portland on Tuesday, September 2, 2014. Participating with Caulk is Kathleen Casasa, immediate past president of the Portland Education Association. Caulk was nominated by Karen MacDonald, a teacher at King Middle School who was named 2014 Maine teacher of the year. Caulk nominated Portland Mayor Michael Brennan, Senate President Justin Alfond and Portland Chamber of Commerce CEO Chris Hall.

Portland Schools may profit from virtual instruction program - Proposed program includes teachers, coursework offered by vendor of Maine’s first virtual charter school.

Kennebec Journal (Augusta, ME) - September 2, 2014 Author/Byline: Noel K. Gallagher, Portland Press Herald

Portland School District anticipates making more than $2,000 for every student that enrolls in a new district virtual instruction program being launched this fall, according to a proposal sent to the Portland School Board.

The program would initially be offered to students in grades 7 through 12, and the academic coursework and teachers would be provided by Pearson, the same vendor used by the state’s first virtual charter school, which opens this fall.

The school board will review the proposal at a workshop following the regular Tuesday night board meeting on Sept. 2 at Casco Bay High School.

Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk said the program was intended for students who are homeschooled or are enrolled at a new virtual charter school….

Caulk has said the program would be available to students who live in the Portland School district, but according to the Connections Learning document, the program would be available to students living in Cumberland, York, Androscoggin, Sagadahoc, Lincoln, Knox, Kennebec, Waldo and Oxford counties…

Caulk said there are “major similarities” between the Portland program and Maine Connections Academy, the state virtual charter school that will open in the fall.

Caulk said the district intends to administer the new program with existing staff and provide students with computers and hardware as needed. The district has about 7,000 students and 16 schools.

Last year, nine students from the Portland Public School District went to charter schools, and this year the number increased to 31, Caulk said…

Portland schools to offer virtual classes in fall - School officials’ plan to provide a program that competes with virtual and charter schools could help them stave off the loss of some public funding.

Kennebec Journal (Augusta, ME) - August 21, 2014 Author/Byline: Noel K. Gallagher, Portland Press Herald

The state’s largest school district hopes to lure homeschoolers back to the fold — and compete with a new statewide virtual charter school — by offering a virtual academic program starting this fall.

Homeschool students living in the Portland Public School District could take all their classes online through Pearson, the same vendor working with the state virtual charter school, but be registered as district students, Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk said. It is unclear whether the virtual classes would be available to all grades.

“We recognize the educational landscape is changing. It is incumbent upon us to compete,” Caulk said. “We want to target homeschooled students and parents who, for whatever reason, are choosing online learning. We want to provide an in-district option for students considering a free statewide (virtual) charter school.”

Caulk said there are “major similarities” between the Portland program and Maine Connections Academy, the state virtual charter school that will open in the fall.

“I think we can do it better,” he said, citing the other resources in the district, which has about 7,000 students and 16 schools.

Last year nine students from the Portland Public School District went to charter schools, and this year the number increased to 31, Caulk said.

Belinda Ray, a former public school teacher who homeschools her children, said she thought a virtual program through the Portland schools would interest some homeschool families.

“Absolutely, but not necessarily every homeschooler (would be interested), because homeschoolers do run the gamut from people who replicate the school experience at home to people who are doing something totally different,” Ray said. Her own 17-year-old sons, for example, take some classes at Southern Maine Community College as part of their homeschooling plan.

Details of the program were not immediately available, including whether the program would be available to students already attending classes in the district or whether students could take some classes online and some in the classroom.

Caulk said the program, which he first announced in a monthly newsletter issued last week, is in an early stage. He said the school board has not been briefed on details, and the district has not reached out to the homeschool community. He said the district intends to administer the new program with existing staff and provide students with computers and hardware as needed. It is also unclear whether the program would require school board approval.

Caulk said it is too early to tell how many students might enroll. When asked why the district didn’t just create its own virtual charter school, he said the program might “grow into that.”

“This is a short-term turnkey solution,” said Caulk, who has been sharply critical of charter schools in the past. “As we built it out, if we get students and the program begins to grow, we could look at a longer, more sustainable plan. I don’t want to imply that a charter school would be the direction we would go in, but we would look at the various options out there.”…

If the homeschool student enrolls in Portland’s virtual program, the district will get funding for that student. Some of that funding would go to Pearson, which provides the instruction; but Caulk would not disclose the district’s financial arrangement with Pearson, referring those questions to Sharon Pray, the district’s director of student support services. Pray declined to comment, saying officials want to brief the school board first. The Portland Press Herald has filed a Freedom of Information request for documents regarding the arrangement with Pearson…

Emmanuel Caulk. Monday, August 18, 2014 at 10:50 am. As the new school year begins, the staff of the Portland Public Schools is focusing on how we can best ...

Innovative New Program Builds a Bridge to College Success for Graduates of Portland Public Schools Who Attend SMCC

Targeted News Service (USA) - August 7, 2014 

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine, Aug. 7 -- Southern Maine Community College issued the following pressroom document:

A diverse group of 16 recent high school graduates from Portland Public Schools are getting a head start on their college careers with guidance from a designated success coach thanks to a new program at Southern Maine Community College called MySuccess.

The MySuccess program is the product of a unique partnership between SMCC, Portland Public Schools, the John T. Gorman Foundation and Portland ConnectED that aims to transform student success rates for Portland students who attend SMCC.

MySuccess aims to increase student success by improving academic preparedness, building life and personal skills, and establishing an ongoing support system, SMCC President Ron Cantor said Thursday at a press conference at SMCC.

"The college degree is the new high school diploma. In today's economy, a college credential is essential for success," Cantor said. "The program provides the guidance and support students need to succeed in college and after."…

"The MySuccess program provides an incredible opportunity for graduates of the Portland Public Schools to receive financial and academic support at Southern Maine Community College," said Portland Public Schools Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk. "That boost at the beginning of their college career will launch them on a pathway to success and help ensure that they successfully complete a degree….

Trying to catapult college success - An inaugural summer program at SMCC is giving 16 at-risk students an extra boost.

Kennebec Journal (Augusta, ME) - August 5, 2014 Author/Byline: Noel K. Gallagher, Portland Press Herald

SOUTH PORTLAND — Just days into his college career, 18-year-old Johnny Henriquez found himself down on one knee, cranking away on a trebuchet — a medieval weapon that uses a counterweight to hurl missiles hundreds of feet down the road at 55 miles an hour.

“Wow! That was fast!” Henriquez said after springing the 15-foot-tall wooden device, which was flinging plastic jugs of water that exploded violently on impact.

Henriquez, a Deering High School graduate, was sitting in on professor Kevin Kimball’s physics class as part of a new Southern Maine Community College program that helps academically at-risk students who have been enrolled but need remedial classes.

Sixteen students, all graduates of Portland schools, make up the inaugural “My Success” class, funded by a two-year $125,000 grant from the John T. Gorman Foundation, with matching funds from SMCC. It includes an intensive two-week summer program, a $200 summer stipend, a $500 scholarship toward the student’s first semester, and a coach to work with students year-round.

“The program targets kids that have a problem with a low rate of success,” said coach Maggie Loeffelholz. “We’re hoping that having more personal connection will help them be more successful.”

Portland Superintendent Emmanuel Caulkand Portland Mayor Michael Brennan both praised the program, which is coordinated by Portland ConnectED, a community coalition that aims to improve educational outcomes for Portland students. About 80 percent of Portland students graduate from high school, but less than half earn a college credential within six years, according to a Portland ConnectED report released in April….

Portland’s municipal finance director tapped for school post - Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk has named Ellen Sanborn to become chief financial officer of Maine’s largest school district – a post she knows something about.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - July 31, 2014  Author/Byline: Kelley Bouchard, Staff Writer

Ellen Sanborn, finance director for the city of Portland, has decided to end a 30-year career with the municipality to become chief financial officer for the Portland School Department.

Sanborn has worked closely with school officials in recent years. In 2007, she worked part time in the superintendent’s office for several months, overseeing the school budget in the wake of a $2 million deficit spending crisis that led to an administrative overhaul.

Sanborn will replace Mike Wilson, who is retiring after four years as the school district’s chief financial officer – a position that was created during a major administrative reorganization that followed the budget crisis.

Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk said Sanborn emerged quickly as the top candidate among two finalists in a nationally advertised search.

“Ellen is a team player who has strong financial acumen, professional integrity and work ethic,” Caulk said. “She’s also very knowledgeable about both the city and the school budget processes and is well respected throughout the community.”

Caulk said Sanborn’s understanding of financing public school construction in Maine will come in handy as Maine’s largest school district launches several major building projects….

Grants for Maine learning centers will benefit low-income, immigrant students - Gov. LePage was among those who appeared in Portland on Friday to announce the $11.3 million in grants over the next five years.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - June 28, 2014 Author/Byline: Eric Russell, Staff Writer

Gov. Paul LePage visited Reiche Elementary School in Portland’s West End on Friday to announce that 32 Maine schools will benefit from an $11.3 million federal grant that supports after-school and summer learning opportunities for low-income and immigrant students.

LePage, who talked about his own upbringing as an at-risk student many years ago in Lewiston, said he overcame poverty and language barriers to succeed and he thinks every Maine student deserves the same opportunity.

Joining LePage were Maine Education Commissioner Jim Rier, Portland schools Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk, South Portland schools Superintendent Suzanne Godin and Ethan Strimling, CEO of LearningWorks, the Portland-based nonprofit that will receive $2.5 million of the funding under the 21st Century Learning Centers program.

LearningWorks will use the money over a period of five years to provide extended learning time to more than 300 students at four schools in Portland, including Reiche, and two schools in South Portland.

Grants to help at-risk students ignites fight over what federal funds are OK to accept

Bangor Daily News (ME) - June 27, 2014 Author/Byline: Seth Koenig, BDN Staff, Bangor Daily News

PORTLAND, Maine -- All in attendance at the news conference in Portland on Friday afternoon agreed that $11.3 million in grant funding to help at-risk students is good news, but the announcement quickly reopened schisms between Maine Democrats and Gov. Paul LePage over MaineCare expansion and aid for undocumented immigrants.

The grants LePage announced Friday represent federal money being distributed to local nonprofits and school districts by the Maine Department of Education.

That opened the door for Senate President Justin Alfond, D-Portland, to question why the Republican governor is comfortable accepting federal money for education programs, but not MaineCare expansion, which Democrats have argued would provide government health care coverage to an additional 70,000 Mainers….

Ethan Strimling is the executive director of LearningWorks, a Portland-based nonprofit helping to administer the grant-funded after-school and summer enrichment programs in Portland and South Portland.

Strimling, a former Democratic state lawmaker, said he won't be checking program participants for immigration paperwork, and said any student enrolled in Portland or South Portland schools with a need for educational help would qualify.

Portland Public Schools Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk said he does not plan to screen the programs for undocumented immigrants, either…

Portland School Board adopts diploma standards, with changes - High schools will require students to have a post-graduation plan, but a pro-college emphasis has been dropped and more options added.

Kennebec Journal (Augusta, ME) - June 25, 2014 Author/Byline: Noel K. Gallagher, Portland Press Herald

The Portland School Board dropped a plan that would have required every high school student to apply to college, a vocational or technical program or the military to get a diploma.

Instead, the board approved a modified graduation policy Tuesday that requires all students to develop a post-graduation plan that could include college, looking for a job or traveling.

At several public hearings in recent weeks, most speakers had criticized the original proposal as being elitist and putting too much pressure on students to choose a certain path. Several speakers said they thought there was too much emphasis on the message that all students should go to college, and several urged the board to broaden the policy.


School boards across the state are revamping their graduation policies in light of a 2012 state law that requires all school districts to change to a “proficiency-based” diploma system. That means all students must meet the state standards in eight areas: English, math, science and technology, social studies, health education and physical education, visual and performing arts, world languages, and career and education development. It is up to the districts to determine how to measure whether a student has met the standards, and they can add requirements to their own diploma policy.

Portland School Board members agreed that all students must complete a large project, known as a capstone project, that demonstrates in-depth research, presentation skills and technology skills.

“This policy means Portland Public Schools graduates will be better prepared for life after high school,” Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk said in a written statement. “They will have the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in today’s constantly evolving global economy.”

The standards are supposed to be in place for the graduating class of 2018, but the state has announced that districts could apply for extensions of up to two years if needed….

Portland kindergartners to get early start on Spanish lessons - Lyseth Elementary School in Portland is offering the first immersion learning program in a Maine public school, and has plans to keep the class together through fifth grade.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - June 24, 2014 Author/Byline: Noel K. Gallagher, Staff Writer

Come September, expect to hear a lot more “hola, estudiantes!” at Portland’s Lyseth Elementary School, where one kindergarten class will be taught almost entirely in Spanish.

The 20 students are poised to participate in the first immersion learning program in a public school in Maine. The plan is to expand the program each year so the students will stick together as a Spanish-speaking class through fifth grade.

Experts say immersion learning is the most effective way to learn another language…

Portland school officials said they have wanted to offer a Spanish immersion program for years. Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk embraced the idea when he started his job about two years ago, said Grace Valenzuela, the head of the district’s multilingual program…

Another View: Knowing second language both prevalent and a needed skill - Fluency in a world language other than English is a major asset in the global marketplace.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - June 19, 2014 Author/Byline: Emmanuel Caulk

Robert Skoglund claims in his June 14 column (“A true polyglot likely would end up talking to himself in Maine”) that Mainers who speak anything other than English are “a curiosity.” He adds, “Why would a Maine man spend his life becoming fluent in several languages when he’d never get to use them?”

Clearly, The humble Farmer hasn’t been to Portland recently. Our community is home to people from all over the world.

Nearly a third of the students in Portland’s public schools speak a primary language other than English at home. Of the 57 languages spoken, the largest language groups, in order, are Somali, Arabic, Spanish, French, Khmer, Vietnamese, Acholi, Kinyarwanda, Kirundi and Portuguese.

Our district provides instruction in world languages, including Spanish, Arabic and Mandarin, beginning in elementary school. Next fall, we will launch the state’s first kindergarten immersion program in Spanish. We are working to ensure that all students gain fluency in a second language by the time they graduate.

Why? Because we are preparing students to succeed in the global marketplace. Fluency in a world language other than English is a major asset.

I invite Mr. Skoglund to visit our district and meet students who have mastered two, three or more languages. Their linguistic skills will help them succeed as they pursue careers right here in Maine.

Superintendent's Notebook: Celebrating Portland's high school graduates. Emmanuel Caulk. Monday, June 16, 2014 at 2:00 pm. Graduation season is one of ...

Portland High replaces graduation speaker over Facebook post - Class President Charlie Gauvin’s speech is canceled after he tells classmates to bring non-alcoholic beverages to a senior skip day outing ‘because some wusses need chasers.’

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - May 31, 2014 Author/Byline: Gillian Graham, Staff Writer

The cancellation of the senior class president’s speech at Portland High School’s graduation because of a Facebook post has upset classmates, who chanted Charlie Gauvin’s name during commencement marching practice this week and urged the principal to reconsider her decision.

In a post on the class of 2014’s Facebook private group page, Gauvin urged his classmates to bring food and non-alcoholic drinks to a senior skip day gathering May 21 at Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth. Senior skip day is a common but unsanctioned event at high schools each spring.

In the post, Gauvin also made comments about underage drinking and local police officers that drew the attention and disapproval of school officials.

The 18-year-old class president said Friday that he jokingly wrote that people should bring non-alcoholic beverages “because some wusses need chasers,” and anyone who was going to drink should make sure they had a sober driver.

His post to classmates included an expletive to describe police who might catch them drinking and driving, he said.

The Facebook post was removed and replaced with an apology.

“In retrospect, that was not the best thing to say,” Gauvin said Friday as he stood outside the high school after a senior assembly to celebrate the end of the year. “I really was not advocating (for underage drinking). I was genuinely advocating for their well-being.”

School administrators were notified of the post and, after meeting with Gauvin, decided not to allow him to speak at the graduation ceremony June 4, Gauvin said. Senior class Vice President Paul Foster will speak instead.

Principal Deborah Migneault and Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk did not respond to repeated requests for comment Friday. School board Chair Sarah Thompson said she was aware of the decision but declined to comment about the situation because she didn’t have details….

Grant will help Portland students attend SMCC - The $125,000 grant will establish the MySuccess program, which gives students a summer program, stipend, scholarship and coach.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - May 30, 2014 Author/Byline: From staff reports

Southern Maine Community College has received a $125,000 grant to offer financial and academic support to students in Portland public schools who attend SMCC, according to a statement released Thursday…

The program will increase the number of high school graduates going to college and improve their chances of success in college, said Portland Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk. About 80 percent of Portland students graduate from high school, but less than half will earn a college credential within six years, according to a Portland ConnectED report released in April.

“It’s imperative that every student has a pathway to success,” Caulk said in the statement. “The MySuccess program will provide a seamless transition for Portland graduates enrolling in SMCC to receive the necessary supports to ensure they successfully complete college.”

Maine school districts can delay new graduation requirements - The state offers schools as much as two extra years to implement the new standards, which require student proficiency in eight academic areas.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - May 28, 2014 Author/Byline: Noel K. Gallagher, Staff Writer

State education officials say school districts can now take some extra time to implement new proficiency-based graduation requirements if they need it.

In a letter Wednesday to the state’s superintendents, Education Commissioner Jim Rier spelled out six ways to apply for extensions, so districts can delay the new requirements for as long as two years….

In Portland, where public hearings will be held in the next two weeks on proposed graduation requirements, Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk said Wednesday that he isn’t sure the district will need the extra time, “but it’s good to have that option.”

“We need to look and see what the process entails, but we do welcome it. We want to do this and do it well,” Caulk said. “We have to give our teachers time to do the work, and that’s going to take additional resources.”

Maine high schools revamping graduation requirements - A change in state law prompts Portland officials to look at measures of ‘proficiency’ other than test scores.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - May 27, 2014 Author/Byline: Noel K. Gallagher, Staff Writer

Portland officials who are updating the school district’s graduation policy in response to a new state law say every future high school student should complete an in-depth “capstone” project and apply to a post-secondary school or job certification program to get a diploma.

“It raises the bar,” Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk said Tuesday.

Portland’s proposed changes are part of a statewide move toward “proficiency-based” diplomas, required under a state law that was passed in 2012 and will take effect in 2017…
Superintendent's Notebook: Great teachers change lives. Emmanuel Caulk. Monday, May 19, 2014 at 1:50 pm.

State's grading system frustrates school administrators

Bangor Daily News (ME) - May 18, 2014 

AUGUSTA, Maine -- A day after the Department of Education released report cards for Maine's schools for the second year in a row, school administrators expressed frustration over what they call a flawed grading system.

"We reject the notion that a school can be given a single grade that has much meaning at all," said Michael Wright, superintendent of School Administrative District 41, which serves the communities of Milo, Brownville, LaGrange and Atkinson. "Schools are much more than how they perform on a single test or measure."…

Rather than evaluating school effectiveness, critics say the grades reflect student poverty levels.

"Once again, the A-F grades underscore the impact of poverty on student achievement," wrote Portland School Department Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk in a prepared statement released Thursday. "Most of the schools with the lowest grades exceed the average poverty rate for Maine schools."

The Maine Education Association issued a statement that made a similar claim.

Like last year, schools that received D and F grades had, on average, much higher percentages of students who qualify for free and reduced lunch than schools that received an A or a B, according to DOE data….


Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Maine Sunday Telegram (Portland, ME)) - May 18, 2014

Top teacher, superintendent to discuss education topics

Portland Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk and Karen MacDonald, Maine’s 2014 Teacher of the Year, will lead a discussion of the book “21st Century Skills: Learning for Life in Our Times” by Bernie Trilling and Charles Fadel, at 7 p.m. at Longfellow Books in Monument Square.

Elementary school ‘fails’ nearly double in annual Maine grading - The report cards say 93 Maine schools gained at least one letter grade and 155 slipped at least one. Educators slam the system, but others call it a tool for improvement.

Kennebec Journal (Augusta, ME) - May 16, 2014 

The number of Maine elementary schools that got failing grades for the last academic year nearly doubled, according to statewide school report cards released Thursday by the Department of Education.

Data from the department shows that 52 elementary schools – covering students through eighth grade – received F grades for the 2012-13 school year, up from 29 for 2011-12, the report card program’s first year.

Another 61 elementary schools received D grades for the 2012-13 school year, up from 48 a year earlier.

There was little change in grades for Maine’s public high schools, the majority of which received C grades, as they did for 2011-12.

The statewide A-to-F system, a hallmark of the education reform effort that Gov. Paul LePage launched last year, was sharply criticized by education officials, who said it stigmatizes schools in poorer communities and provides only a snapshot of progress in districts….

Superintendents, who received their schools’ report cards earlier this week, were quick to point out that the grades don’t necessarily paint a complete picture of what is happening in the schools, although they can be used to start discussions in the community about how to improve education.

“These grades use a simplistic and inadequate system for gauging school performance that relies primarily on a single, standardized test,” Portland Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk said in a written statement.

Portland voters overwhelmingly approve $96.3 million school budget - The spending plan requires no teacher layoffs and will provide more funding for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - May 13, 2014 

Portland voters overwhelmingly approved a $96.3 million school budget Tuesday for the coming fiscal year, with nearly 70 percent backing the spending plan.

The vote was 1,033 to 459 in an expectedly low turnout, with only 2.8 percent of the city’s 52,545 registered voters going to the polls, said City Clerk Katherine Jones.

Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk thanked voters for supporting a budget that will retain all locally funded positions and allow the district to focus on four strategic priorities: strengthening the core academic program, stimulating progress for all learners, driving innovation and investing in school infrastructure.

“This budget helps move us forward toward our goal of becoming the best small urban school district in the country by 2017,” Caulk said in a news release…

Portland council sends $102 million budget for schools to voters - The proposal for 2014-15 calls for a 3.3 percent increase and no layoffs of teachers.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - May 6, 2014 

The Portland City Council voted Monday to endorse a $101.6 million school budget for the coming year that would avoid teacher layoffs and make additional investments in areas such as science and mathematics education.

Portland residents will vote on the school budget in a referendum on May 13. The portion of the school budget subject to voters’ approval covers $96.3 million of the total, including $76.4 million paid for with property taxes.

The total proposed school budget calls for a 3.3 percent increase over the $98.3 million approved by voters last year.

Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk said the budget would allow the city to continue offering pre-kindergarten programs, and provide more funding for science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs.

If approved by voters, the school budget will increase the annual property taxes on a home assessed at $250,000 by $62.70, Caulk said.

The budget would also provide additional funding for Casco Bay High School to hire more teachers and enroll more students in response to demand, save about $250,000 by offering early retirements and hiring teachers with less seniority, and provide $838,660 in local money to adult education programs, up from $724,530 in this fiscal year.

Unlike in past years, the school budget drafting process has been relatively uncontentious. The City Council’s Finance Committee endorsed the budget proposal unanimously and the council voted 8-1 to endorse it and send it to voters next week…

Emmanuel Caulk. Monday, April 14, 2014 at 9:40 am. Christopher Claudio will take off time from his job as chief executive officer of Winxnet, a Portland-based IT  ...

DOE approves 6 schools for state-funded construction projects

Bangor Daily News (ME) - April 11, 2014 

AUGUSTA, Maine -- Fred P. Hall School in Portland has deteriorating wood siding and windowsills, a roof that leaks periodically and it does not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to Peter Eglinton, the Portland School Department's chief operations officer. On top of that, the school had an electrical fire in 2012 that forced students out of the building for two weeks.

The condition of the school, which was built to be a temporary building in 1956, "takes both a physical and emotional toll," Eglinton said.

On Wednesday, the school was put on a path to recovery. It was one of six schools that the Maine State Board of Education voted to add to a list of schools slated for state-funded construction projects.

The other five schools are Mt. Ararat High School in Topsham, Martel School in Lewiston, Monmouth Middle School, Teague Park School in Caribou and Morse High School in Bath. They bring the state's list of approved projects to 12 dating back to 2012.

Officials from the districts whose schools made the list expressed appreciation for the planned state aid that would be coming their way.

"Replacing Hall has been our district's top priority for building improvements," Portland Schools Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk said in a prepared statement distributed Wednesday.

"Combining state and local funding is the only way we can address our critical needs while reducing the burden on Portland taxpayers," he said…

Portland's Hall School added to list for new building - The elementary school is one of six schools added to the state’s guaranteed fund list to renovate or rebuild facilities.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - April 11, 2014 

A Portland elementary school that was damaged by fire two years ago and two aging high schools in midcoast Maine are guaranteed to receive state aid to build new facilities or renovate their existing buildings.

The State Board of Education on Wednesday voted to accept Commissioner James E. Rier Jr.’s recommendation to add six schools, including Portland’s Fred P. Hall School, to the state’s Major Capital School Construction Approved Projects List. Portland is estimating that it will cost more than $20 million to replace the Hall School, though state education officials say it is too early to put a pricetag on any of the projects…

“We really appreciate the state recognizing the importance of this critical project,” Portland Schools Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk said in a statement released Wednesday. “Replacing Hall has been our district’s top priority for building improvements.”…

Portland city manager's $221 million budget proposes more police, social service workers and chefs

Bangor Daily News (ME) - April 7, 2014 

PORTLAND, Maine -- Portland City Manager Mark Rees is proposing a $220.9 million municipal budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, a spending plan which would raise property taxes by $84 on the average Portland homeowner if approved…
Rees' fiscal year 2015 municipal budget comes in addition to the Portland Public Schools' budget for the coming year. Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk unveiled his initial $102.3 million school budget draft -- a nearly four percent increase -- last month…

Portland school board chairwoman lauds rising test scores, district stability in annual address

Bangor Daily News (ME) - March 17, 2014 

PORTLAND, Maine -- Sarah Thompson, chairwoman of the Portland Board of Public Education, told city leaders Monday night district test scores are improving and its facilities are expanding, but challenges remain on the horizon.

Thompson delivered the third annual State of the Schools address as mandated by a 2011 slate of city charter changes approved by voters.

The roughly 30-minute speech came less than a month after the board extended Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk's contract by a year, from 2015 to 2016, and received the initial draft of his fiscal year 2015 budget, which increases spending by $4.1 million but includes no staff cuts.

"The board and superintendent are working well together, bringing focus and stability to the district," Thompson said.

Thompson noted that Portland schools where students previously scored poorly on standardized tests have bounced back, with Presumpscot Elementary School recognized by the state last week as a "High Performance Reward School" and Riverton Elementary School now outperforming state and district scoring averages.

Districtwide, fifth-graders exceed state averages on the standardized New England Common Assessment Program tests by 6 percent, while Portland eighth-graders top state means by 8 percent, Thompson said.

But she acknowledged that the district graduation rate of 79.5 percent lagged behind the state graduation rate of 86.4 percent, and only 46 percent of Portland's third-graders living in economically challenged households scored as proficient in reading, compared to a larger district average of 62 percent.

Thompson said Caulk and other school system leaders are working hard to develop individualized learning strategies for the most at-risk students. She added that district officials are continuing work on plans to replace the deteriorating Fred P. Hall School and upgrade several other school facilities, are increasing the amount of locally sourced food served in school cafeterias, updating its technology infrastructure, stepping up its composting efforts and shifting to more environmentally friendly natural gas buses.

She also lauded the system's recent purchase of the former Goodwill Industries building in the downtown 353 Cumberland Ave. location, which will allow the district to move its central offices out of its Allen Avenue school building and free up space to expand its popular expeditionary learning-based Casco Bay High School there.

"Portland public schools are at a crossroads in many ways, but we have strong leadership and a clear focus on how to become one of the best small urban school systems in the country," Thompson said.

Superintendent's Notebook: It takes a state to support education

By Emmanuel Caulk in the Forecaster - Monday, March 16, 2015 at 12:10 pm

One of my core values is that it takes an entire community to ensure the success of our public schools. That doesn’t mean just our local community. As our legislators work in Augusta to decide how much to allocate in state funding to local school districts, I’d like to point out that we are all part of one community: the state of Maine.

Portland Public Schools Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk writes this column monthly. He can be reached at Read his blog at

Education plays a vital role in that community. Maine’s schools and businesses are closely linked. Our schools educate the workforce of tomorrow, ensuring today’s students have the knowledge and skills to prepare them for 21st-century careers. But if Maine schools don’t get the funding they need to do that, the skills gap will widen. Without an educated workforce, we won’t be able to attract businesses to our state and our economy won’t be able to grow and prosper.

Our state Legislature is in the midst of making decisions about General Purpose Aid to local school districts. Back in 2005, Maine voters said the state should pick up 55 percent of the cost of education. However, the education budget that Gov. LePage has proposed calls for funding only about 46 percent.

If passed, that budget would do a disservice to students, parents and local property taxpayers by failing to adequately fund the true cost of education in Maine.

The cost of education in the budget proposal has increased by $68 million, but state aid to local districts is only going up $20 million, according to the Maine School Management Association.
At the local level, that means an unreasonable and unsustainable cost shift to property taxpayers to cover the cost of educating our state’s young people.

Here in Portland over the last few years, we have implemented a disciplined, even austere, approach to budgeting in the face of a challenging economy and declining state support. We make every dollar count and we’re showing our community a positive return on its investment – our students are demonstrating growth. My proposed budget for fiscal year 2016 simply maintains current resources and staffing while investing in our employees.

Yet under the governor’s budget proposal, Portland stands to lose more than $900,000 in GPA in the new fiscal year, according to the latest state numbers. Without that hole, the 2.3 percent tax hike that my proposed budget entails would drop to just 1.1 percent.

We’re not the only school district facing a bleak budget outlook. Just based on inflation, costs are increasing statewide for special education and general operations. In addition, the governor and Legislature have imposed numerous mandates on public schools over the past four years.

Those include changing diploma standards, developing and implementing expensive new teacher evaluation systems, moving to a Common Core system and implementing new standardized tests. Such requirements add costs, yet the state hasn’t provided new funding to match those costs.
Furthermore, the state has shifted teacher retirement costs onto local districts. Historically, the state had paid the full employer share of teacher retirement costs. State government has ways to raise revenues and spread out tax responsibilities in an equitable fashion.

Local communities lack those options. At the Portland Public Schools, for example, the cost of teacher retirement creates a $1.3 million to $1.5 million hole in our budget. If the state restores full state responsibility for funding teacher retirement costs, and Portland didn’t have a decrease in GPA, my budget proposal would require a zero tax rate increase or even lower.

Another one of my core values is: Students come first. It’s time for our state to prioritize our children and provide the funding our schools need to successfully prepare them for college and career.
That is why I have asked state legislators – the leaders of our state community – to help Maine schools succeed by increasing state aid to education, making up the difference in the governor’s budget proposal and keeping the mill rate for local property taxpayers flat.

I urge you to also ask your elected representatives to fully fund Maine’s educational needs and not shift that burden onto local taxpayers. Meeting the full educational needs of Maine students is the fair, equitable – and community-minded – thing to do.

Superintendent's Notebook: It's time to invest in Portland students' success. Emmanuel Caulk. Monday, March 17, 2014 at 11:31 am. During my year and a half ...

After years of cutting, Portland school budget seeks to bolster staff - The superintendent’s budget asks voters for a $4 million spending increase that would require taxes to go up.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - March 11, 2014 

After years of school budgets focused on cutting millions of dollars, Portland Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk is proposing a $102.4 million budget for the 2014-15 school year that has no reduction in staffing and restores some of the cuts made last year.

“We did a lot of hard work this current year, we lost talented staff,” Caulk said, referring to last year’s budget, which cut 36 teachers. “There’s no way we could survive another year of cuts like that.”

Caulk’s budget, presented Tuesday night to the Portland School Board, calls for a 4.5 percent increase over the $98.3 million approved by voters last year.

Much of the budget, which will take effect July 1, is fixed, with about 65 percent of it spent on salaries for the district’s roughly 700 teachers and 60 administrators. The 16-school district has almost 7,000 students. The amount to be raised by taxes is $78 million, up 4.5 percent from $74.7 million this year.

That would increase the schools’ portion of Portland’s property tax rate by 3.7 percent, adding $72.30 to the annual tax bill for a home with an assessed value of $200,000, Caulk said.

Last year, the budget increased the schools’ portion of Portland’s property tax rate by 3 percent, adding $58 to the annual tax bill for a home with an assessed value of $200,000.

Property taxes needed to fund Maine’s largest school district have increased every year for the past five years. Since 2009, the district has eliminated more than 100 positions while state and federal funding have been reduced by millions.

Caulk said he thinks there will be support for the spending increase from the City Council as well as voters, who give final approval to the school budget.

Overall non-property tax revenue is estimated to increase 3 percent, to $24.3 million from $23.6 million last year. Part of that revenue is the state subsidy, which is projected to increase to $16.8 million from $16.4 million.

The precise amount of the state subsidy will not be established until a state budget is passed at the end of the current legislative session.

The proposed budget includes $160,000 for elementary school lunch aides and $150,000 for seventh-grade sports programs, both of which were cut last year.

Among the budget details:

n It shows cost savings of about $250,000 in benefits because of early retirements and the hiring of less-senior teachers, who have lower salaries.

n Elementary schools would get an increase of 3 percent. For individual schools, the changes would range from about a 6 percent increase at the Presumpscot, Reiche and Longfellow schools to a cut of 4.6 percent at Peaks Island Elementary, which has had declining enrollment in recent years.

The three middle schools would get slight increases, from 0.06 percent at Moore Middle School to a 4 percent increase at Lincoln Middle School.

The three high schools and Portland Arts and Technology High School stand to get an increase of 3.5 percent, with the largest increase – 12.4 percent – at Casco Bay High, which will expand and hire more teachers.

n The budget includes $350,000 to replace grant funding and allow a two-year-old pre-kindergarten program to continue.

n The Superintendent’s Office budget would increase from $523,908 to $583,852.

n The Portland Adult Education budget would increase from $1.54 million to $1.55 million.

Flat or declining state funding and rising costs have caused years of difficult budget cycles, with budgets that raise property taxes but still cause significant layoffs.

Caulk also spoke Tuesday about upcoming policy goals for the district, such as exploring how to add online learning options to sync with district programming.

“The education landscape is constantly changing and I want to compete on every front, even if that front is virtual,” Caulk said, noting that state officials recently approved the state’s first virtual charter school.

Students gather to solve problems in Maine's school system

Bangor Daily News (ME) - March 9, 2014 

PORTLAND, Maine -- The lack of funding for public schools, the cost of higher education and a dysfunctional program for English language learners were some of the problems more than 50 students, representing 13 schools from Dexter to Scarborough, tackled Saturday at the Portland Public Library.

The event consisted of student-led presentations and discussions about how to improve Maine's education system. It was sponsored by Seeds of Peace, a program that attempts to alleviate intercommunal tensions in Maine by bringing together immigrant, refugee and American-born students from high schools across the state for a two-week-long summer camp and other events throughout the year.

Students shared experiences of being stigmatized in school because they have learning disabilities or are not American-born. After each presentation, they met in small groups to discuss possible solutions to these problems….

The conversation later shifted to standards-based education, a form of teaching and grading that all Maine high schools will be required to use in the 2014-2015 school year. The model calls on students to master a set of skills in order to graduate from high school, and moves emphasis away from a traditional model of letter grades and credits.

After another student presentation, the audience grilled a panel of educators that included Portland Public Schools Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk, Casco Bay High School principal Derek Pierce and Dexter Regional High School teacher Lisa Cronin, all of whom have had varying degrees of experience with standards-based education.

The students wanted to know:

-- What happens if a student doesn't meet the standard?

-- How will standards-based education affect students with disabilities?

-- Doesn't standards-based education benefit self-motivated students and leave behind everyone else?

"We're all living in a flawed system and I don't see much harm in trying to move to a better system," said Pierce, whose school has been using a standards-based system since it was founded in 2005.

Each of the student participants at Saturday's event had attended the summer camp at Seeds of Peace or will attend this year. Students that show strong leadership skills are selected by their teachers to apply to the program. Their applications are evaluated by Tim Wilson, the program's director, and administrators in the Seeds of Peace central office in New York, before they are invited to camp.

"This is not typical of a lot of things that go on in Maine," said Wilson. "It's their dialogue. We put parameters on it, but it's their dialogue."

Portland school board moves early to extend superintendent's contract

Bangor Daily News (ME) - February 26, 2014 

PORTLAND, Maine -- The Portland Board of Public Education announced Tuesday night it voted to extend the contract of Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk by one year.

Caulk received the extension less than two years into his initial three-year deal, which was set to expire June 30, 2015.

But while Caulk's contract wasn't set to run out imminently, the move helps lock down one of Portland's most visible public officials at a time when multiple nearby school districts have been competing to fill top administrator jobs.

Over the last six months, school departments in Yarmouth, Falmouth, Cumberland and Freeport, among others, have launched searches for new superintendents, although some of those positions have since been filled.

With the Portland board's latest action, the former Philadelphia school administrator will remain under contract through June of 2016. Caulk makes an annual salary of $137,500.

"By extending Mr. Caulk's contract now, the board would like to convey that the board and the superintendent are working well as a team and that the community can expect continuity and stability in the leadership of Portland Public Schools," board chairwoman Sarah Thompson said in a statement.

While the period of transition in Portland has settled down in recent months, the decision to secure Caulk may help calm public nerves in the aftermath of heavy turnover at City Hall. Caulk was hired in 2012, in the midst of an approximately two-year period in which Portland hired a new city manager, fire chief, police chief, deputy city manager, planning director, top attorney and mayor.

Caulk also took the post after his predecessor, James Morse, held the position for only three years before deciding not to seek a contract renewal.

In his nearly 18 months on the job, Caulk has already presided over a difficult budget cycle, in which city and school leaders blamed state budget cuts for a spending plan that included approximately 40 job cuts.

But he has also stepped forward to bear some of the district's financial pain, taking furlough days this year to help balance the budget and passing on a 5-percent pay raise he was eligible for.

He has also been credited with an aggressive outreach campaign to help network the schools better in the community, by inviting local business leaders in as " Principals for a Day," a survey of district parents and the launch of an online " toolkit" to allow the public to more actively weigh in on the budget process underway.

Under Caulk's watch, the district has also acted quickly to acquire and renovate the 50,000-square-foot former Goodwill Industries building on Cumberland Avenue, providing much-needed new permanent homes for the department's central office, the West Program for students with emotional disabilities and mental health diagnoses, and the Multilingual and Multicultural Center.

Earlier on Tuesday, Caulk was on hand as Portland High School's newly expanded and renovated in-house health center was dedicated in the name of longtime school nurse Amanda Rowe.

"Despite the many challenges that come with leading the largest, most diverse school system in Maine during difficult financial times, Mr. Caulk has always put the needs of our students first," Thompson said in a statement. "He has remained focused on helping us build a world-class school system for a great city, and has spent countless hours holding listening and learning sessions with staff, parents and other stakeholders throughout the community.

"Mr. Caulk was brought here to bring leadership, stability and innovation to our school system and he has succeeded on all counts," she continued.

Portland schools hire new transportation, adult education directors

Bangor Daily News (ME) - February 26, 2014 

PORTLAND, Maine -- The Portland school department announced Wednesday afternoon that the district has hired new directors for its adult education and transportation departments, both of which have been in the news in recent years for significant capital changes….

"Bethany Campbell brings energy and experience that will enhance our program for adolescent and adult learners," said Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk in a statement….

Portland in-school health center tripled in size, named for late activist nurse Amanda Rowe

Bangor Daily News (ME) - February 25, 2014 

PORTLAND, Maine -- In an emotional ceremony Tuesday afternoon in Portland, Amanda Rowe was remembered as a beloved longtime school nurse and an influential statewide advocate for children's healthcare initiatives.

The event served as a reopening of Portland High School's in-house health center after a $225,000 federal grant-funded expansion and renovation, as well as a dedication of the newly revamped facility in Rowe's name….

"She always did whatever was necessary to solve the problem, whether it was cleaning a scraped knee or accompanying a student to the emergency room," said Portland Public Schools Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk.

Superintendent's Notebook: Portland schools strive for education equity. Emmanuel Caulk. Monday, February 17, 2014 at 10:10 am. I know something's ...

Jan 13, 2014 ... Superintendent's Notebook: Community partnerships enrich Portland students' education. Emmanuel Caulk. Monday, January 13, 2014 at ...

Public gets new ways to influence Portland school budget

Friday, January 3, 2014 at 1:10 pm

PORTLAND — With the turning of a new year, a new budget season begins for Portland Public Schools.

This year, however, the district is offering two ways for the public to provide input on the School Department's nearly $100 million annual budget.

Superintendent of Schools Emmanuel Caulk will host a Town Hall-style meeting on Jan. 30 at 6:30 p.m. at King Middle School to discuss the budget for the 2014-2015 school year.

Available now is a new "Neighbor-to-Neighbor Toolkit" – an online guide to the budget process that is meant to encourage public participation.

Included in the package is an introductory video by Caulk, who explains the many steps of the budgeting process, the time-line for budget adoption and the department's revenue and expenses.
Caulk suggests groups of Portland residents follow the toolkit's instructions and work together to develop suggestions on the budget. Afterward, groups can  submit their suggestions via email to

"I promise to read and consider all of your ideas," Caulk says in the four-minute video.
The budget process begins each year in the fall, with school principals and other managers submitting requests for staffing, equipment and other expenses, Caulk explains. Those requests are then reviewed by the district administration. During that time, the administration also holds talks with the department's four labor unions.

Each March, the superintendent presents a proposed budget to the board for review and community feedback.

Next, in April, a board-approved budget goes before the City Council. If accepted by the city, voters will either approve or reject the budget in a referendum in May.

The annual budget, which is approximately $98 million, is built from a variety of sources: 75 percent from local sources, such as property taxes, 16 percent from state subsidies, 4 percent from food service sales, and 5 percent from out-of-district tuition and other sources, Caulk said.

The largest share of budget expenses, 79 percent, goes toward salaries and benefits for faculty and staff. The rest covers debt repayment, facility maintenance, books, supplies, utilities, and more.
“I encourage everyone to participate in creating a budget that reflects our community's values and priorities for public education,” Caulk said.

District spokeswoman Shoshana Hoose said nothing precipitated the district's decision to create the toolkit. Rather, it's part of the district's ongoing effort to involve the community.


Portland council approves purchase of former Goodwill building - The building will be used to house the central office, multicultural center and West programs.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - December 17, 2013 

The Portland City Council voted 8-1 on Monday to buy the former Goodwill building at 353 Cumberland Ave. for $3.6 million.

The vote clears the way to move Portland Public Schools’ central office, West Program, and Multilingual and Multicultural Center downtown.

The school district could finalize the purchase of the three-story, 50,000-square-foot building in late January, which would allow the programs to move before the 2014-15 school year, school officials said.

City Councilor Kevin Donoghue cast the only dissenting vote Monday, saying he was concerned that the move would prevent future redevelopment of a surface parking lot.

Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk said in a prepared statement that moving the programs downtown presents better opportunities to access services, such as the Boys & Girls Club, the Portland Public Library, City Hall and Deering Oaks park.

“West students will benefit from nearby educational and community resources. The central office and multilingual center staff will benefit from easy access to our colleagues at City Hall and opportunities for more collaboration,” Caulk said….

Superintendent's Notebook: China schools prepare students to compete globally. Emmanuel Caulk. Monday, December 16, 2013 at 8:30 am. I recently spent ...

Portland OKs $3.6 million plan to buy, renovate downtown building as school facility

Bangor Daily News (ME) - December 16, 2013 

PORTLAND, Maine -- The Portland City Council on Monday night approved a series of motions that will raise and spend $3.6 million to buy and renovate a former Goodwill Industries building in the downtown to serve as a new school facility.

In an upcoming move, Portland Public Schools will relocate its central office, West Program for students with emotional disabilities and mental health diagnoses, and the Multilingual and Multicultural Center to the 353 Cumberland Ave. site.

In announcing the proposal two months ago, Portland Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk said the building is convenient in the downtown for participants in those programs and offers proximity to resources such as the Portland Public Library, the Portland Boys and Girls Club and Portland City Hall.

"It's more than just a purchase of property. It's really about ensuring our learners -- our most fragile learners and our adult learners -- have access to a 21st century learning environment and some stability," Caulk said Monday….

Thompson nominated to head Portland school board - The Portland native is the longest serving member of the board.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - November 19, 2013 

The Portland school board on Tuesday night nominated at-large board member Sarah Thompson to be its next chairwoman.

The board also recognized two new members, Pious Ali and Anna Trevorrow, who were in the audience and will be sworn in in early December. They will fill the seats vacated by former board chairman Jaimey Caron and past chairwoman Kate Snyder…

Thompson, first elected in 2006, is the longest-serving member of the board. A native Portlander, she went to schools in Portland from kindergarten through college, and is a graduate of Portland High School.

Within months of her election in 2006, a $2 million deficit discovered in the $82 million budget uncovered a host of financial management problems. The crisis led to the resignations of the superintendent and finance director at the time.

Thompson has served on several subcommittees and led the last two search committees for a new superintendent.

“She brings a wonderful passion to the group,” Caron said, noting that she had recently traveled to China with Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk to study that country’s educational system…

The board oversees a budget of roughly $100 million for a 16-school district with 6,986 students. The district employs 694 teachers and 60 administrators.

Superintendent's Notebook: Portland must invest in school buildings. Emmanuel Caulk. Monday, November 18, 2013 at 10:30 am. If you own a home, you ...

Portland school officials want to buy, renovate former Goodwill Industries building

Bangor Daily News (ME) - October 31, 2013 

PORTLAND, Maine -- Portland school officials are hoping to allocate $3.6 million to buy and renovate a former Goodwill Industries building in the city's downtown.

According to an announcement Thursday, the Board of Public Education will consider the project at its meeting Tuesday night. In the proposed move, Portland Public Schools would relocate its central office, West Program for students with emotional disabilities and mental health diagnoses, and the Multilingual and Multicultural Center.

"This building is ideally located, near Portland High School, the Portland Public Library, Deering Oaks, the Portland Boys and Girls Club and Portland City Hall," said Portland Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk in a statement Thursday.

"West students will benefit from nearby educational and community resources, and they will use the gymnasium at the former Cathedral Grammar School that we already are renting," he continued. "The central office and Multilingual Center staff will benefit from easy access to our colleagues at City Hall and opportunities for more collaboration with service agencies."

The central office is now located in the Portland Arts and Technology High School on Allen Avenue, while the Multilingual and Multicultural Center is housed at Lyman Moore Middle School….

"During the past six months, our staff looked at more than a dozen properties to purchase or lease. Nearly all of them cost significantly more money, and none was as well suited for our purposes," said Caulk in a statement. "We have an extraordinary opportunity to purchase this building before it goes on the market at a higher price. Delaying the purchase of space for these three programs will only add to the cost."

The purchase price of the building would be $2.7 million, and the district expects to incur an additional $900,000 in legal, administrative and renovation costs.

School administrators are promoting the deal as one that would provide the West Program's 40 students a permanent educational home and free up space at PATHS for the expansion of the expeditionary Casco Bay High School. Funding for the purchase and renovation is proposed to come from the current year's capital improvement budget.

Portland school board candidates field budget, academic questions

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - October 30, 2013 

The board oversees a 16-school district with 6,986 students. The district employs 694 teachers and 60 administrators. In addition to passing the school budget, board members deal with issues such as curriculum, graduation rates, test scores and attendance. The board works closely with the school administration and Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk….

Portland School Board: Seats sought by 6 candidates - Two winners of the Nov. 5 election will fill at-large seats being vacated by current board chairman Jaimey Caron and past chairwoman Kate Snyder.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - October 15, 2013 

PORTLAND — A difficult budget season and a pending bond referendum to renovate several schools are among the top issues facing six candidates running for two open seats on the Portland Board of Public Education.

The two winners of the Nov. 5 election will fill at-large seats being vacated by current board chairman Jaimey Caron and past chairwoman Kate Snyder.

Incumbent Laurie Davis is running unopposed for her District 3 seat.

The candidates for the two at-large seats are Pious Ali, Deborah Brewer, Ralph Carmona, Gene Landry, Frederic Miller and Anna Trevorrow.

The only candidates who have held elected office before are Trevorrow and Davis, both of whom were elected to the Charter Commission. Several ‑ Carmona, Miller and Trevorrow – have run unsuccessfully for offices ranging from the Maine Legislature to the school board. All of the candidates emphasized in interviews that they did not see this as a political steppingstone.

Ali, Brewer and Landry currently have children attending Portland public schools.

The board oversees a roughly $100 million budget for a 16-school district with 6,986 students. The district employs 694 teachers and 60 administrators.

It’s the most ethnically diverse district in Maine, and 23.5 percent of the students are English language learners. For 30 percent of students, a language other than English is their primary language at home. The district has a 77 percent graduation rate and a 91 percent attendance rate, both lower than statewide averages.

Issues such as curriculum, graduation rates, test scores and attendance can come before the board and its seven standing subcommittees. The board works closely with the school administration and Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk, who recently completed his first year in Portland.

Inevitably, the budget will dominate much of the board’s work, as it has in years past and because it dictates how resources are allocated. Much of the budget is fixed, and currently about 65 percent of it is spent on salaries. Flat or declining state funding and rising costs have led to years of difficult budget cycles, with budgets that raise property taxes but still result in significant layoffs of district employees.

The district is also still stabilizing in the wake of a financial crisis in 2007, when a $2 million deficit in the $82 million budget uncovered a host of financial management problems. The crisis led to the resignations of the superintendent and finance director at the time.

Also next year, the board will shepherd a June vote on a $39.9 million bond to renovate Lyseth, Presumpscot and Riverton elementary schools. The current board pressed to hold that vote this November, but the City Council put it off to 2014.

The district is still waiting to hear if the state will approve funding for the $20.6 million replacement of Portland’s Hall Elementary School. Despite assurances it is likely, no formal decision has been made. The state has also indicated it might provide $11.2 million to renovate Longfellow Elementary School.

Last year, voters passed a $98.3 million budget that cut about 50 teachers. The budget, which took effect July 1, increased the schools’ portion of Portland’s property tax rate by 3 percent, adding $58 to the annual tax bill for a home with an assessed value of $200,000.

Deering aide will lead team for game - Matt Riddell will be in charge of the football team while Scott Parsons serves a suspension.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - October 2, 2013 

Matt Riddell, a Deering High assistant football coach, was named as the interim head coach for Friday night's home game against Lewiston at Memorial Field.

Riddell will be filling in for Scott Parsons, the head coach who is serving a one-game suspension for an ejection after the final play of Friday night's 13-12 loss to Massabesic.

An ejection carries an automatic one-game suspension, according to Maine Principals' Association rules.

"(Riddell) is the interim head coach for the game while Parsons serves his MPA suspension," said Deering Athletic Director Melanie Craig in an email.

Parsons was ejected for making an inappropriate comment to an official….

Jaimey Caron, chairman of the Portland School Committee, said he was unaware of the incident but will be looking for direction from the Portland superintendent, Emmanuel Caulk.

"I haven't seen any communication from the superintendent on this," said Caron.

"I will be looking for his plan to make sure things like this don't happen again. It's not a good reflection on how you want to present the Portland school system."

Sep 16, 2013 ... Superintendent's Notebook: Portland schools launch initiatives to stimulate progress. Emmanuel Caulk. Monday, September 16, 2013 at 10:00 ...

Portlanders voting today on school budget changes - Voters are being asked to approve $1.9 million in additional spending so the district can use a higher-than-expected state subsidy to restore positions.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - September 4, 2013 

PORTLAND — Portland residents are at the polling stations today to vote on a $1.9 million supplemental school budget referendum.

“Passage of the referendum is critically important,” said Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk in a release. If it fails, “we will be forced to cut $1.4 million from our current year’s budget, which would require major staff reductions.”

The Legislature increased Portland's subsidy by $1.9 million before its session ended. That prompted the school department to propose budget changes and go back to the city's voters for another approval referendum.

The school department plans to use $1.3 million to pay for teacher retirement costs that were shifted from the state to the district, $20,336 to pay for two additional students to attend the Baxter Academy for Technology and Science charter school – there are nine students total – and $523,483 to restore eight staff positions that had been cut from the budget, according to Caulk.

Portland finds homes for West Program, adult ed - Former school buildings in Falmouth and Portland will house the two Portland programs.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - August 26, 2013 

PORTLAND — The school board has approved housing Portland's program for special-needs students in a former school in Falmouth and moving Portland Adult Education to the former Cathedral School downtown….

"Our staff worked diligently for months to find space for the two programs and we considered more than a dozen possible locations," said Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk.

"This is a wonderful outcome that will benefit both the students in the West Program and those in adult education classes."

Schools show post-cut losses

Kennebec Journal (Augusta, ME) - August 24, 2013
Portland Press Herald

As Maine students start returning to classes next week, their schools will be operating with less money than they had last year.

Drastic budget cuts across the state have led to scores of layoffs of teachers, the elimination of some middle school sports programs and sharp reductions in arts and language offerings.

According to more than a dozen superintendents who were interviewed, the picture is grim in many school districts…

Portland schools cut 36 teachers and five central office staff positions. It was able to make only small changes to its curriculum and sports programs, Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk said….

'We need an army': Education group seeks more than 200 volunteers to help turn around six Maine schools

Bangor Daily News (ME) - August 15, 2013 

PORTLAND, Maine -- Backed by a $2.2 million AmeriCorps grant, the Portland-based nonprofit LearningWorks is seeking approximately 200 new volunteers to assign to six schools in four Maine school districts.

The volunteers, who would be asked to work between 300 and 1,700 hours, would not be putting the hours in entirely for free, LearningWorks Executive Director Ethan Strimling said in a Thursday morning news conference. By going into the schools and doing one-on-one tutoring, community outreach or family engagement exercises, the volunteers would qualify for between $1,100 and $5,500 toward their own educational advancement, such as college tuition payments.

The schools where the volunteers will be used are Ellsworth High School and Sumner Memorial High School in Regional School Unit 24, Spruce Mountain High School in the Jay/Livermore Falls-based RSU 73, Carrabec High School of School Administrative District 74 in North Anson, and Portland's Riverton and East End elementary schools.

Joining Strimling at Riverton on Thursday morning for a news conference announcing the grant were Maine Commission for Community Service Executive Director Maryalice Crofton and Portland Public Schools Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk, among others.

"When I called Manny [Caulk] up in February to tell him we were looking into this grant program and I asked him what he needed, he told me, 'We need an army -- if you can get me an army, I'm in,'" Strimling recalled. "Well, here we are. We got you an army."

Strimling said anyone age 17 and older can sign up to be an AmeriCorps volunteer, meaning many high school juniors and seniors, as well as college students, can apply and qualify for the tuition help. For adults older than 55, the education aid can be passed down to children or grandchildren, Crofton said.

The prospect of older students mentoring younger ones in local schools appealed to East End Community School Principal Marcia Gendron.

"It reinforces the message to our younger students that there is value in going to college," she said Thursday.

The schools where the volunteers will be deployed qualify for the reinforcements because they receive federal School Improvement Grants as low-performing schools on standardized tests mandated by the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Crofton said the coalition of Maine schools, applying under the LearningWorks banner, was able to compete for the AmeriCorps funding against more frequently awarded urban school districts elsewhere in the country because the group was able to show that the money would be used in nearly all corners of the state.

"This is the largest grant to come into Maine through AmeriCorps since 2003," she said.

Superintendent's Notebook: Supplemental budget vote vital for Portland schools. Emmanuel Caulk. Monday, August 19, 2013 at 9:00 am. Students will return to ...

Consultant: Add 10 jobs in Portland schools - The consultant's report, to be used in restructuring, also says the organization of the Portland district has fallen behind 'best practices.'

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - August 13, 2013 

Three months after the Portland school district cut more than 40 positions because of budget constraints, a consultant's report is recommending that the district add 10 new administrative jobs as part of a larger restructuring.

The report, by Florida contractor Evergreen Solutions, said it "discovered a few areas where staffing was less than expected and clear responsibility for functions did not exist."

Among the new suggested jobs: two new human resources workers; a liaison to the school board; a school performance management officer; an additional accounting assistant in the finance department; two data specialists; and a mid-level Information Technology coordinator. No salary ranges for the jobs was provided.

Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk said the report provides guidance and context for ongoing district organization efforts and multiyear budgeting.

"While we cannot make the recommended changes all at once, the report gives us a path to follow that will strengthen our organization as we move forward," Caulk said in a memo to the school board, which received the lengthy document at its meeting Tuesday night.

The district paid Evergreen Solutions $69,000 in December to analyze the district's resources, studies compensation, classification and the overall organizational structure. The consultant also did a compensation and benefits analysis of district employees.

Overall, Evergreen found that:

• Portland schools spend 65 percent of the budget on salaries, compared with 60 percent by what the analysis described as "peer organizations."

• Teacher salaries and benefits are in line or above comparable markets.

• In feedback sessions, employees said they were disappointed they couldn't get merit increases.

• The district's organizational structure has "fallen behind current best practices in titling and roles."

"The good news is that as we turn to making major and long-overdue infrastructure investments, we already have very competitive compensation and benefit packages in place," Caulk wrote.

The report also proposed a new management structure that shifts certain job responsibilities and changes the reporting structure of some jobs. For example, Human Resources would report directly to the superintendent instead of to the chief financial officer.

New Portland school budget vote Sept. 4 - The election asks voters to approve the district's plan to restore positions using additional state aid.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - August 6, 2013 

PORTLAND — A special election will be held Sept. 4 to ask voters to increase the school budget by $1.9 million.

In May, voters approved a $96.4 million school budget that eliminated roughly 55 positions. But the state budget, which has an impact on school budgets, wasn't finalized until June.

That budget requires the city to adjust school spending, officials said, because the state shifted about $1.4 million in teacher retirement costs onto the district, while increasing General Purpose Aid by $1.9 million. That left the Portland district with $500,000 in unexpected revenue.

Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk said the district plans to use the $500,000 to restore administrator and teaching positions that were previously eliminated, including an elementary assistant principal; 1.5 instructional support specialists; 1.5 high school teachers for technology, world language and visual arts; and four educational technicians.

The extra spending would not affect the previous voter-approved tax rate because it's covered by the additional state aid.

State law requires voter approval for school budgets, and districts must get voter approval again if they choose to spend additional funds.

Jim Rier, deputy commissioner of the state Department of Education, said he believes most Maine communities will not need to adjust their budgets because they either accounted for the increase in teacher retirement costs or have decided not to spend the additional state aid this year.

Districts that do not use the additional state funding will have that money available to them in case the state issues another mid-year cutback in funding, Rier said…

The Portland Board of Public Education originally included the teacher retirement costs in the budget it presented to the City Council. However, the council and Mayor Michael Brennan directed them to remove the line item, because they hoped the Maine Legislature would not include the cost shift in the state budget.

"It was essentially a gamble you took," resident Steven Scharf told councilors Monday. "You lost the gamble."

The council decided at Monday's meeting to hold the special election next month -- at a cost of about $17,000 -- rather than wait until the November election to seek voter approval.

Brennan and Councilor Edward Suslovic opposed the special election. Brennan said the district would be risking little by waiting until November because the council made a commitment to help offset the retirement costs.

But Superintendent Caulk and Justin Costa, chairman of the school board's Finance Committee, told councilors that the district could not begin the hiring process without first receiving voter approval.

Also, waiting until November would make it more difficult to find talented people, Caulk said.

Councilor Nicholas Mavodones Jr. said the school budget should be finalized as soon as possible. The $17,000 cost was "a pittance to ensure we have some predictability," he said.

SMCC chief floats ideas to prepare Portland kids for college - In an address to Portland educators, he describes some of the deficiencies freshmen struggle with.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - August 5, 2013 

SOUTH PORTLAND — A few key changes could help Portland's high school graduates vastly improve their odds of sticking with – and being successful at – community college, the president of Southern Maine Community College said Monday.

"Let's put our institutions together," Ron Cantor said in a kickoff keynote address to about 60 Portland school district administrators and school leaders at a weeklong retreat organized by Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk.

Cantor said 26 percent of the 135 Portland high school graduates who went to SMCC in 2011 dropped out after the first semester, and almost all of the students -- 93 percent -- needed at least one remedial course in math or English.

"In our culinary program, the instructor will tell them, if there are more people, to double the recipe. And they don't know how to double the recipe," Cantor said. "Or we have students say, 'I don't need to take math, I'm going to be a carpenter.'"

Letting students know while they are still in high school that they will need certain skills – and giving them certain tests early to show them their weaknesses – can help prepare students for college-level work, he said.

"They need to know how to divide fractions. The scientific method shouldn't be a new concept. They need to write a paragraph that doesn't make a reader cringe," Cantor said.

He also told the group to encourage students to take advantage of dual enrollment programs, in which high school students can take college courses at little or no cost and have a few college credits by the time they graduate from high school.

He recommended that the school district and the community college work together on a "summer bridge" program to mentor and provide one-on-one help to students who intend to go to college the fall after they graduate.

Thirty-seven percent of those students never show up in the fall, Cantor said.

"They call it the summer melt," he said. "Let's put together an air-conditioned summer bridge."

Caulk said the district is working on several of those fronts already.

This is the second leadership retreat Caulk has held since he became Portland's superintendent last year.

"We want to focus on leadership excellence across the district," Caulk told the group. "It's going to rest on the shoulders of everyone in this room."

Cantor said he is impressed with efforts already under way in Portland schools.

"We're wrestling with a lot of similar challenges," he said, from operating on tight budgets to pushing students to break through "low education aspirations."

"It baffles me about Maine," said Cantor, noting that Mainers have a strong work ethic, which usually indicates a drive to succeed in education. "In Maine, the education aspirations are just not there. No matter why (that is), we need to work on increasing education aspirations."

Portland panel delays $40M school bond vote until 2014 - School officials and parents had urged the Finance Committee to set an earlier date in hopes of renovating three elementary schools.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - July 27, 2013 

PORTLAND – Three city elementary schools will have to wait another year before residents can vote on building improvements that school administrators and parents say are desperately needed right now.

School board members, school administrators, parents and students urged the City Council's Finance Committee on Thursday night to set an early date for a public vote on a $39.9 million bond that would pay for the renovation and expansion of Lyseth, Presumpscot and Riverton elementary schools.

But a majority of committee members – three councilors were present for Thursday's vote – balked at holding a November referendum. The councilors voted instead to schedule the school bond referendum in June 2014…

Only Councilor David Marshall said he would support a November referendum.

About 40 school officials, administrators, parents and students pleaded with the Finance Committee to hold a vote in November on the $39.9 million bond.

"This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the city of Portland," said Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk.

Caulk said the bond package would raise the annual property tax on a home valued at $200,000 by about $67.

Among the long list of school improvements that are planned would be replacing modular classrooms with permanent classrooms at Lyseth and Presumpscot schools, creating more secure entrances at all five schools, separating gym and cafeteria spaces at four schools, and making all five schools handicapped accessible…

Local & State Dispatches

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - July 26, 2013 


Panel suggests second vote on school budget be Sept. 3

Members of the City Council's Finance Committee voted 3-1 Thursday night to recommend that the city hold a supplemental school budget validation referendum in September.

If the full council agrees at its Aug. 5 meeting, then voters will be asked on Sept. 3 to approve a revised school budget that includes an additional $1.9 million in expenditures.

School officials said the Legislature increased Portland's subsidy by $1.9 million before its session ended. Those funds can be spent in the coming school year, but not without approval from voters.

Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk said the school department plans to use $1.3 million to pay for teacher retirement costs that were shifted from the state to the district, $20,336 to pay for two additional students to attend the Baxter Academy for Technology and Science charter school -- there are nine students total -- and $523,483 to restore eight staff positions that were cut from the budget.

Caulk said he wants to hire an assistant elementary school principal; literacy specialists for each middle school; high school teachers to support technology, world language and visual arts programs; and four educational technicians…

Portland board OKs second vote on school spending - The City Council must approve the referendum, which could be held as early as August.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - July 24, 2013 

PORTLAND — The Portland School Board voted unanimously Tuesday night to recommend the City Council approve a second referendum on the school budget.

A second referendum is needed because the school district got about $1.9 million more in state funding than it expected. The extra money was a result of budget negotiations in the last session, which didn’t end until long after Portland – and all other Maine towns – had held legally required school budget votes.

The final state budget had $29 million more for schools than the original proposal from Gov. Paul LePage, so most towns underestimated their state funding. Now each town must hold a vote before they can spend the extra money.

In Portland, Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk recommends $1.3 million be used to pay for new teacher retirement costs that shifted from the state to the district, $523,000 to restore eight staff positions ranging from assistant principals to ed techs, and some money for additional charter school costs.

The council must approve the referendum, which could be held as early as August.

Portland seeks quick vote on spending extra state funds - Restoring as many as eight 'high-value' positions may be one option considered in a Portland referendum.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - July 22, 2013 

PORTLAND – School officials are recommending a quickly scheduled public referendum to approve how additional state funds are spent in the upcoming school year. One possibility: restoring assistant principal positions at Hall, Longfellow and Ocean Avenue schools and several other staff jobs that had been cut.

The Portland school board will vote Tuesday night on whether to recommend that the City Council approve a referendum to be held in August.

The final state budget included an unexpected $29 million for schools, including about $1.9 million for Portland. But the law says districts cannot spend that money unless residents vote on a new school budget. A bill allowing one-time use of the extra money without a referendum failed in the state Legislature.

There's also the question of how to spend the windfall. Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk has proposed restoring staff cuts. But it could also be used, hypothetically, to lower the property tax impact or be directed to the city's unassigned general-fund balance.

"We want to reduce cuts (and) we can do this in a tax-neutral way," school board member Justin Costa said Monday.

Not all of the $1.9 million is extra money for spending. The $96.4 million school budget approved by voters in May didn't include $1.3 million to cover the shifting of some teacher retirement contributions from the state to local school districts. There are also some additional charter school costs, officials said.

All that leaves the district with about $523,000 to "fund eight high-value positions," according to a memo to the board from Caulk and Chief Financial Officer Michael Wilson.

Under the existing budget, 49 full-time positions were cut, including 32.6 teaching positions. Several board members said when they approved the budget that they hoped they would be able to restore some of the positions.

Caulk recommends spending $90,000 to reinstate assistant principal hours at Hall, Longfellow and Ocean Avenue schools; $120,000 to create one full-time literacy specialist at each middle school; $120,000 to restore teaching positions for technology at Deering High School, world language at Casco Bay High School and visual arts at Portland High School; and $120,000 for four education technicians.

Portland officials said there is a particularly urgent need to get voter approval as fast as possible because the money would be used for decisions on staffing that would need to be in place before the school year begins. In addition, officials want a final budget in place to be able to track expenses against final budget figures.

The City Council must approve the referendum language. The memo from Caulk and Wilson outlines a plan in which the council holds a double session on Aug. 5 so it can have both a "first reading" in one session and a "second reading" in the second, speeding up the process.

Otherwise, it could push the referendum into October, which "really would not be helpful to the school," the memo states.

Mayor Michael Brennan had estimated it could cost up to $15,000 to hold a referendum.

Emmanuel Caulk. Monday, July 15, 2013 at 9:50 am. I'm starting a book club, and you're invited to participate. At our first meeting in September, we'll discuss a ...

Schools reject LePage's military recruiter claim

Associated Press State Wire: Maine (ME) - July 15, 2013 

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine school officials on Monday disputed Gov. Paul LePage's claims that they prevent uniformed military recruiters from meeting with students.

Portland Public School officials said the district's four high schools allow uniformed military recruiters to speak with students. Military recruiters have a table set up in or outside the guidance office, Portland High School Principal Deborah Migneault said in a statement.

"We want our students to know the full range of postsecondary opportunities available to them, including military service," said Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk.

In a radio address Friday, LePage, a Republican, bashed Democrats for rejecting legislation to mandate that schools institute policies providing uniformed military recruiters the same access to students as other college and career recruiters.

Several Democrats, including House Speaker Mark Eves of North Berwick and Senate President Justin Alfond of Portland, supported the bill, but some said it was unnecessary because there is no factual evidence of a problem. The measure failed by a handful of votes in the House before lawmakers adjourned for the session.

LePage said it was brought to his administration's attention that high schools in Portland and Yarmouth "refused uniformed recruiters from stepping on campus." He also singled out several other schools in southern Maine that he said only allow minimal access to recruiters.

In a May email to the Department of Education, Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Hannibal of the Maine Army National Guard said several schools only allow military recruiters into the school once per year. Other schools prevent recruiters from wearing uniforms or remove the names of juniors and seniors from the list available to recruiters, he said.

"The Democrats' blatant rejection of this bill sends a message to all military service members - past and present - that they are not welcome in Maine's public school system," LePage said.

Connie Brown, executive director of the Maine School Management Association, said they have no knowledge of any districts preventing recruiters on campus or telling them they cannot appear in uniform.

Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, public schools must provide military recruiters the same access as college and career recruiters in order to receive funding. The National Defense Authorization Act also requires that high schools provide military recruiters the names, addresses and telephone numbers of juniors and seniors…

Portland adult ed students plead for new home - More than 200 students and teachers rally outside City Hall as building plans are discussed.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - June 28, 2013 

PORTLAND – As city councilors met Thursday to consider putting a $40 million school renovation bond to a citywide vote, more than 200 students and teachers from Portland Adult Education rallied on the steps of City Hall to call for a new home for their program.

Portland Adult Education has been forced to move out of the deteriorating West School. Its supporters gathered at City Hall around 4:30 p.m. Thursday to say they don't want to be forgotten while the city considers asking voters to renovate elementary schools and replace the aging Hall Elementary School.

Anja Hanson, academic adviser for Portland Adult Education, said students delivered a book of letters to city officials after the rally, handwritten messages expressing the students' "dreams and desires."

Their rallying cry was heard by members of the City Council's Finance Committee and Mayor Michael Brennan, who met privately earlier in the day with Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk and Rob Wood, director of Portland Adult Education, to discuss building options….

Portland educators hope to help students avoid 'summer slide'

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - June 22, 2013 

Summer's here and it's time to break out the beach towels, sunblock – and the books.

Educators worried about "summer slide" – how some students lose skills in the lazy days of summer – are putting new effort behind summer learning opportunities, from new funds for the city library's Bookmobile to reading lists sent home with all Portland students this year.

"Kids are much more likely to falter and drop out if they are not reading," said Mike Dixon, the executive director of Portland ConnectED, an initiative by Mayor Michael Brennan to engage local businesses, philanthropists and educators to provide a spectrum of education benefits to Portland's young people.

Brennan and Dixon joined Portland Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk on Friday to launch the Portland Pledge for Summer Success and unveil some of the programs available this year. Dixon said new grant money will allow three more schools to provide reading programs over the summer, serving 130 additional children. They are also able to expand the Bookmobile hours and staffing, provide more book giveaways and plan to offer a "celebrity reading" event later this summer…

On the Portland School District's website, Caulk has a video urging students to "read on!" during the summer. All public school students got a reading list from their teachers, he said. "Parents, please make sure that your students follow through," he says on the video….

Emmanuel Caulk. Monday, June 17, 2013 at 10:50 am. I've just finished my first graduation season in the Portland Public Schools. I was struck by how many ...

Portland Adult Education loses its home

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - June 13, 2013 

PORTLAND – For years, teachers and students of Portland Adult Education dealt with the leaky roof, the finicky boiler and the decaying floors. At least they had a home.

Soon, they won't even have that.

At the end of this month, classes will wrap up for the semester and the West School, home of the city's adult education program for 27 years, will be shut down.

Portland school officials are still working out arrangements to relocate the program for the fall, but all of the scenarios involve splitting up classes, students and the staff, said Director Rob Wood.

Portland Adult Education holds classes for GED testing, English language and jobs skills, among others…

Emmanuel Caulk, superintendent of Portland schools, said in a prepared statement that he and his staff are committed to funding a safe and healthy environment for adult education, but he didn't offer a long-term solution.

"I don't think they have a long-term solution," Hanson said. "They have told us the plan for next year is a plan B."

School officials have proposed more than $70 million in renovations or replacements for five schools. The project needs voters' approval because it includes a $40 million bond. None of that money would go to the West School or Portland Adult Education…

209 graduate from Deering High in Portland - The Class of 2013 consisted of 209 students. Nathan Finberg was the valedictorian and Alyssa Donovan was the salutatorian.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - June 5, 2013 

PORTLAND — More than 200 students graduated from Deering High School during a ceremony Wednesday morning at the Portland Expo.

The ceremony lasted an hour and 40 minutes and featured music by the school’s jazz band and speeches by the top students, Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk and Principal Ira Waltz….

First Portland layoffs include 12 teachers, five assistant principals - It was only the first of what will ultimately be approximately 49 full-time positions cut in the school district.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - May 28, 2013 

PORTLAND -- Voicing regret and disappointment, the school board voted to eliminate 12 teaching positions, three elementary school assistant principals and two high school assistant principals.

They were the first of what will ultimately be about 49 full-time position cuts in the district, but the board's vote isn't required for all of the cuts.

Several employees facing layoffs were in the audience.

"It's all so incredibly sad," said Ann Hanna, whose job as assistant principal at Ocean Avenue Elementary School was eliminated. She has worked in the district for more than 22 years, but doesn't retain seniority because she took the administrative job.

"I'm surprised and saddened to be here," Hanna told the board during a public comment period. "I never expected that, by volunteering to do more, that I would be putting my job security at risk."

Going around the table, the board members said they were very unhappy with the layoffs…

There is still some chance that at least some of the cuts can be avoided.

Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk said district officials were continuing to meet with the teachers union, and several board members said they hoped the talks could limit the layoffs.

"I'm going to trust that there can be some shared solutions to restoring these positions," Snyder said.

The budget cuts 32.6 teaching positions. The board had to vote Tuesday night on that group of positions because they are teachers and principals covered by union contracts that have 90-day notice of layoffs.

Other union-covered cuts, such as for ed techs, have a shorter notice requirement and do not require a board vote.

About two dozen people attended the meeting, several speaking out against the cuts.

"I am sad and disappointed that our district, unlike other districts in Maine, is not able to see how important librarians are to our district," said Ocean Avenue librarian Kathy Hanley, who lost her job in the Tuesday vote.

One kindergarten teacher at Ocean Avenue held up posters made by the students to save Hanna's job.

"It is heartbreaking," Lisa Crowley said, holding up the posters. "There's tons of kids that love this vice principal. Not a vice principal. This vice principal."

Portland voters overwhelmingly passed a $96.4 million school budget earlier this month, but it does not account for possible cuts in state funding, including a proposal by Gov. Paul LePage to shift $1.3 million in teachers' retirement contributions from the state to the school district. If the cuts are adopted by the Legislature, Portland will have to revise its budget and make even more cuts.

Caron and Justin Costa, who is chairman of the board's finance committee, noted that uncertainty in state funding.

"What hangs over us is some specter of changes of the state level," Caron said. "I hope we get the money we are counting on."

The budget for the year starting July 1 will increase the schools' portion of Portland's property tax rate by 3 percent, adding $58 to the annual tax bill for a home with an assessed value of $200,000.

There was considerable discussion of why the district was not offering a retirement incentive this year, which is has for the past nine years.

Portland Education Association President Kathleen Casasa said 35 people are ready to resign immediately if it were offered. In all, 106 employees are age-eligible -- 62 years old -- and service eligible, Casasa said.

"See if there is a way to dig your way out of this hole," Casasa said.

Chief Financial Officer Michael Wilson told the board the district isn't offering the incentive because it incurs ongoing costs for the district and has muddled what would be the natural attrition rate. Because the district carries the medical costs for years, it costs about $20,000 or more per retiree each year, he said.

This year's budget pays out about $500,000 to cover the costs of previously approved early retirements, he said.

"That's two or three teachers that could be hired," he said….

Maine's former top teacher facing layoff

Associated Press State Wire: Maine (ME) - May 20, 2013 

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A former Maine teacher of the year may soon find herself out of a job.

Gloria Noyes was teaching fifth-grade at Westbrook's Congin Elementary School in 2009 when she was named the state's top educator.

Noyes left Westbrook last fall to take a job as assistant principal of the Fred P. Hall Elementary School in Portland. Now she's on the list of as many as 49 teachers and administrators who will be laid off at the end of the school year, The Portland Press Herald ( ) reports.

The Portland School Board will hold a first reading of proposed staff cuts Tuesday night before taking a final vote on May 28.

Noyes, married with two children, said she's frightened and has already started looking for a new job.

"I'm very worried about losing my insurance," she said. "It has been a tough pill to swallow."

Portland voters last week approved a $96.4 million school budget that included deep staff cuts to pay for raises and other increasing costs.

"This has been a very challenging budget to craft," Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk said after the referendum vote. "We deeply regret the number of layoffs that will occur and the resulting loss of many talented teachers and staff."

Former Teacher of the Year on list of Portland layoffs - Portland's School Board will hold a first reading on the proposed staff cuts at its Tuesday night meeting.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Maine Sunday Telegram (Portland, ME)) - May 19, 2013 

PORTLAND — Four years ago, Gloria L. Noyes found herself at the pinnacle of her teaching career.

Noyes, who was teaching fifth grade at Westbrook's Congin Elementary School, was chosen by her peers and the Maine Department of Education as the 2009 Maine Teacher of the Year.

The list of nominees for teacher of the year typically spans the state in an effort to recognize an outstanding educator who has served as a powerful advocate for students and educators.

"You beautiful children are the reason I get up in the morning," Noyes was quoted by the Portland Press Herald as saying during a surprise school assembly where she received the award.

But at Tuesday night's Portland School Board meeting, Noyes will find herself on a list of a much different nature.

Noyes, who left Westbrook in October to take a job as assistant principal of the Fred P. Hall elementary school in Portland, is on the list of teachers and school administrators who will be laid off at the end of the school year.

The list of affected employees became public recently when the School Board published the agenda for its May 21 meeting…

Superintendent of Schools Emmanuel Caulk issued a statement after the referendum vote, saying: "This has been a very challenging budget to craft. We deeply regret the number of layoffs that will occur and the resulting loss of many talented teachers and staff."

School officials have said the cuts were necessary to pay for tuition costs of Portland students attending charter schools, salary increases, and a rise in health care premiums.

Local voters to rule on 3 school budgets - Portland, Scarborough and Cape request small increases, and the city seeks to cut jobs.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - May 14, 2013 

In Portland, Mayor Michael Brennan and school Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk urged residents during a news conference Monday to vote in support of the $96.4 million school budget proposed for next year. "I hope the citizens of Portland show strong support for the budget," Brennan said.

Portland's proposed budget would increase the schools' share of the city property tax rate by 3 percent, adding $58 to the annual tax bill for a home with an assessed value of $200,000. At the same time, however, it would cut dozens of positions to help pay for raises and other increasing costs….

Two Portland schools, two miles apart, far different grades - One receives an A, the other an F using test scores as criteria, exposing the system's flaws, critics say.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - May 14, 2013 

PORTLAND — Sarah Thompson and her husband, John, put two daughters through Portland elementary schools.

One went to Fred P. Hall. The other went to Longfellow.

As far as Sarah Thompson is concerned, neither child got a better education than the other.

That's why she was surprised and frustrated when state officials issued grades for Maine's public schools on May 1, including an A for Longfellow and an F for Hall.

Those vastly different grades, for two schools less than two miles apart, highlight the simplicity and pitfalls of the state's new letter-grade system for public schools.

"I don't understand that. They are both great schools," said Thompson, a member of Portland's school board. "The teachers are no less dedicated and the parents are no less involved at one or the other."

The schools' grades were based in part on one day of standardized testing. By many other measures, Hall and Longfellow look almost identical: The buildings are about the same age, the student-teacher ratios are virtually the same, the average teacher age is comparable, and the average experience per teacher is close….


In the new grading system, elementary schools were compared through the latest New England Comprehensive Assessment Program scores for reading and math. The system also considered growth over the previous year at each school in each subject.

With that formula, Longfellow received 306.8 points and Hall got 192.3 points, which translated to an A and an F, respectively.

Portland school officials denied a request by the Portland Press Herald to spend time inside the two schools to look at possible differences in teaching and learning. Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk said he did not want to pit schools against each other.

When the grades were announced, however, Caulk released a statement that urged parents and teachers not to put too much stock in them.

"In the Portland Public Schools, we do not assess a student's year-long performance based on a single test, as we know it is not an accurate reflection of learning," he said. "Similarly, we do not judge the quality of our schools on a single measure and instead review a range of assessment and data analysis to develop plans for success at all schools." …

Portland leaders call out LePage, state government as local school budget vote looms

Bangor Daily News (ME) - May 13, 2013 

PORTLAND, Maine -- Mayor Michael Brennan and Portland Public Schools Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk had strong words for Gov. Paul LePage on Monday morning as they called for city voters to back their proposed school budget at the polls Tuesday and rally the public behind the duo's lobbying efforts in Augusta.

"Balancing the [state] budget on the backs of our students, on the backs of our teachers and on the backs of our administrators is not 'putting students first,' which he espouses," Caulk said of LePage and a $1 million curtailment in state aid the Portland schools saw during the current fiscal year. "His actions run counter to that."

The governor's office defended its education spending, with a spokeswoman pointing out that even after the midyear cuts the LePage administration has spent millions more on local schools statewide than its predecessor.

Surrounded by students and teachers at East End Community School Brennan and Caulk

urged city residents to vote in favor of a $96.36 million fiscal year 2014 school spending plan Tuesday. The event attracted a heavy media turnout.

After calling for applause for Caulk and the teachers at the school, Brennan asked the students to "clap for the governor so he at some point hears what a great school sounds like."

The mayor and superintendent held the line Monday in what's become an adversarial relationship between representatives of Maine's largest city and the governor's office, tying a controversial slate of 40 local school job cuts to what they described as inadequate state funding and cumbersome LePage-backed initiatives.

Caulk in previous budget announcements has lamented the cuts as well as a LePage proposal to shift teacher pensions from the state to local governments -- a move that would lump another $1.3 million in retirement burdens onto the Portland school budget if approved by the Legislature -- and criticized the governor's recently unveiled school grading system as oversimplified.

"The amount of uncertainty created by this governor and the Legislature is unprecedented," Brennan said Monday.

Brennan has clashed with LePage more directly on the subject of charter schools, with the governor supporting the specialized schools and the mayor taking an outspoken position against them, saying a proposed charter school in Portland would sap existing public schools in the city of as much as $600,000 in tuition payments.

LePage at the time called Brennan's resistance to charter schools, which included a since-denied request for a state investigation into the Portland-based Baxter Academy for Technology and Science, "stunningly cynical and shortsighted."

Adrienne Bennett, spokeswoman for LePage's office, told the BDN Monday that Caulk's characterization that the governor balanced the budget "on the backs of students" is "simply a misleading statement."…

Caulk proposes maintaining or increasing funding for prekindergarten, world languages, physical education, art, music and co-curricular activity programs districtwide. Those investments help build a strong structural foundation to build the district back up on when resources and staffing levels can be restored, he said.

Portland voters OK increased school budget - The decision will raise city taxes and force layoffs, but officials are pleased with the support for education.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - May 7, 2013 

Voters overwhelmingly passed a $96.4 million school budget Tuesday, despite deep staffing cuts needed to pay for raises and other increasing costs. With all 11 precincts reporting, the budget was approved with 59 percent of the vote – 1,395 to 971.

Voters also decided, 1,319 to 1,032, to continue the annual citywide votes on the school budget.

"I'm very pleased," said school board Chairman Jaimey Caron. "It's not a budget that folks are thrilled about, but we did our best to balance the impact on taxpayers and preserve a quality education system."

The budget for the year starting July 1 will increase the schools' portion of Portland's property tax rate by 3 percent, adding $58 to the annual tax bill for a home with an assessed value of $200,000.

The $96.4 million in spending is a 2.3 percent increase over the $94.2 million approved by voters last year.

The budget approved Tuesday does not account for possible cuts in state funding, including a proposal by Gov. Paul LePage to shift $1.3 million in teachers' retirement contributions from the state to the school district. If the cuts are adopted by the Legislature, Portland will have to revise its budget.

"It could be a very significant impact. Folks should stay tuned," Caron said. "There could be some hard work ahead."

Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk noted that, despite the staffing cuts, the budget maintains core programs. It also preserves funding for programs such as pre-kindergarten and adult education. "We deeply regret the number of layoffs that will occur and the resulting loss of many talented teachers and staff," Caulk said in a written statement. "At the same time, we recognized the need to keep property taxes affordable for Portland residents."

Property taxes needed to fund Maine's largest school district have increased every year for the past four years. Since 2009, the district has eliminated more than 100 positions and lost millions of dollars in state and federal funds.

The budget for 2013-14 includes deep cuts to offset nearly $8 million in cost increases, including $1.7 million in raises for teachers. Several years ago, in the midst of a financial crisis, the union agreed to a contract that put off salary increases to 2013-14.

The needed staff reductions are still being calculated, but the district estimates that more than 50 locally funded and 15 grant-funded full-time positions could be eliminated.

Among those cuts are 36 teachers and educational technicians, 5.5 central office positions and 3.5 school administrators…

School budget headed to Portland voters cuts 49 positions - It also calls for a 3 percent property tax increase to support Portland schools in difficult budget times.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - May 7, 2013 

PORTLAND — The City Council voted 7-1 Monday to send a $96.4 million school budget to Portland voters on May 14.

The budget for the year starting July 1 does not account for state budget proposals that could shift more than $1.3 million in costs to property taxpayers.

Even so, it would increase the portion of Portland's tax rate that supports schools by 3 percent, from $9.57 to $9.86 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, while cutting nearly 49 positions…

Councilor John Anton, who leads the council's Finance Committee, cast the only vote against the budget, because it would raise taxes while laying off dozens of employees.

"I can't accept that," Anton said. "Those two things don't add up, to me."

Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk's original budget proposal assumed $8 million in cost increases -- including state budget proposals that could add nearly $2 million to the local share of the budget….

Portland elementary school parents rally after getting grade of "F", call LePage ratings 'demoralizing'

Bangor Daily News (ME) - May 2, 2013 

PORTLAND, Maine -- At Portland's Fred P. Hall Elementary School Thursday, parents and students rallied in support of their teachers after learning that the school received an "F" under Gov. Paul LePage's grading system.

"I imagine as a teacher that would be pretty demoralizing," said Carolyn Fernald, mother of a Hall School third grader. "So we wanted to come out and let the teachers know that we appreciate all their hard work."…

Portland Public Schools Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk has argued the governor's grading system is oversimplified, and prior to the release of grades Wednesday, lamented $1 million in cuts to state subsidies for the district in the current fiscal year. Portland school officials have noted, city schools have seen state aid reduced from $17.6 million in 2010 to $14 million this year…

Three-quarters of Maine schools at, below average under controversial new state grading system

Bangor Daily News (ME) - May 1, 2013 

AUGUSTA, Maine -- Three-quarters of the state's schools received a grade of C or lower under a new ranking system unveiled by the Maine Department of Education on Wednesday.

Only 10 high schools, most of them in southern Maine, received an A grade.

While there has been widespread resistance to the idea, which some have called a punitive oversimplification of a school's quality, the LePage administration has billed the grades as a simple and accessible way to reward high-performing schools and help educators and communities rally around the rest. Maine is the 14th state in the nation, along with New York City, to implement a school grading system…

Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen acknowledged that the grading system is designed to put a spotlight on schools, for better or worse.

"Part of my goal is to make some phones ring," he said. "I want my phone to ring at the department about what we're going to do. We want school board members' phones to ring. We want superintendents' and principals' phones to ring. We want parents to start thinking what their role is in all of this."

The grades are distributed along a bell curve, which means the majority of elementary and high schools received a C. Samantha Warren, who took over as the Department of Education's spokeswoman this week, said the bell curve is being used in the first year "to establish a baseline," but won't be necessary in future years. The next round of grades for high schools will be released this fall and new elementary school report cards will sent out next spring.

Not every school received a grade. Some were excluded because they have too few students or were formed too recently for there to be enough data available. Private schools were not included because most of them are not required to report testing data to the state. Charter schools, the first of which were opened in Maine last year, also did not receive grades this year because they are so new. They will be included in the grading system next year….

In Portland, Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk is reaching out to his community. Casco Bay High School received a B while Deering and Portland High Schools each received Ds. The district's elementary school grades ranged from A to F. Caulk said he laments the fact that the Department of Education's grading system is much simpler than the system used to grade individual students.

"When students receive grades in our schools, it is based on a diverse body of evidence and complex assessments to help inform education decisions and support student learning and achievement," he wrote in a letter to parents. "Unfortunately, the state system to grade our schools is not that complex. No one in the education field today believes one standardized test a year is an accurate measure of student progress or school quality, yet Maine is primarily using that simplistic system. Since annual standardized tests measure progress during the previous year, they are a snapshot in time that is more than 2 years old."…

At Portland school, insurance exec becomes 'principal for a day' - The program, which began last week, pairs executives with Portland schools to foster collaboration among business and education.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - May 1, 2013 

PORTLAND – At Lyman Moore Middle School, teachers collaborate easily with other teachers. Children are encouraged to work on projects together. And the staff works in teams to better support teachers.

All in all, a good model for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

Michael Burton, the insurer's regional vice president of sales, said that's the main lesson he learned – or at least had reinforced – on Tuesday, when he was "principal for a day" at the school: The more seamlessly various groups collaborate, the better the organization functions.

The "principal for a day" program, which began last week, pairs executives with Portland schools. The idea is to expose executives to the schools and give the schools insights that the business leaders can offer.

"We have a shared interest in developing the future engineers, the artists, innovators and future leaders who will move the city forward in coming years, said Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk, who developed the program in collaboration with the Portland Regional Chamber. Over the next week, 20 business leaders will be principals for a day. Some, like Burton, will be returning to old stomping grounds….

East End school, hailed for improvements, stunned by 'F' - The school, which serves a largely poor and immigrant Portland neighborhood, had previously been praised for a 20 percent rise in test scores over the last three years.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - May 1, 2013 

PORTLAND – With a grimace, East End Community School Principal Marcia Gendron held up the school's report card, a bold "F" dominating the top right corner. Immediately, the gathering of about 40 teachers erupted in murmurs, gasps and a vocal "Oh my!"

"It's a big old F," Gendron said, breaking the news to teachers in the cafeteria Wednesday after school let out for the day.

It's a grade that Gendron and the teachers believe is unfair, given the significant rise in students' math and reading scores at the school – 20 percentage points in the last three years -- which serves a largely poor and immigrant community on Portland's Munjoy Hill.

More than 40 percent of the students are English language learners and more than 75 percent qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.

"You know the work that we've done," Gendron said confidently to the teachers. "Keep that in mind."

One of the hardest things about the grade is the stigma, teachers said.

"Its very deflating when we as a staff know how incredibly hard -- and smart -- we work here," said Susie Winslow, a literacy and math support teacher. "I feel blindsided."…

Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk released a statement Wednesday that criticized the methodology of the grading system.

"This entire school grading system is built around a political agenda, not a commitment to educational improvement," he wrote. "It is ironic that at the same time that the state cuts funding and imposes added costs on school districts, it implements a system designed to shame schools, not help them." …

Maine business leaders try their hands at running schools for a day

Bangor Daily News (ME) - April 29, 2013 

PORTLAND, Maine -- Public education is hard work.

That was one of the first lessons learned by at least two members of Portland's business community Monday as the city's school department and Portland Community Chamber launched their Principal for a Day program, placing leaders from the private sector in administrative offices around the system.

While school officials and their business counterparts hope the initiative grows to become a dialogue about best practices and businesslike efficiencies, the first impressions among chamber members taking part centered around what they described as a heavy workload being shouldered by today's educators.

"What I take away from it is how hard these teachers work and how much they put into their jobs," said Tony Cipollone, president and CEO of the John T. Gorham Foundation, taking a few minutes away from a fourth grade music class at Harrison Lyseth Elementary School Monday to talk with the BDN.

"This just reinforces how much we don't really appreciate educators enough," continued Cipollone, who had earlier in the day sat in on a first grade class and another for students learning English as a second language. "We really need to give them as much support as we can."

Portland Public Schools Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk said the program aims to harvest fresh perspectives from the business community on how to find efficiencies and boost performances while reacting to a constantly evolving landscape.

The state's largest public school district is once again facing a budget crisis of sorts. Caulk's early fiscal year 2014 spending plan of just less than $98 million involves cutting at least 50 jobs and implementing furlough days for administrators as a way to offset state subsidy reductions and other budget constraints.

The evolving landscape, in this case, involves the introduction of charter schools in Maine, which pull tuition funding from previously established public school systems, and a proposed shift of faculty retirement costs from the state government to the local districts. The combination of changes, Portland school officials have said, add up to more than $2 million in new expenses in the coming fiscal year that the city will have to absorb, squeezing already tight finances even further.

Caulk, who has advocated for greater interaction between the schools and other Portland community institutions since being hired in August, said businesspeople are experts in managing change.

During a Monday morning news conference to announce the program, the superintendent said he was pleased by the enthusiastic response he received by chamber members, who quickly filled up the available Principal for a Day slots.

Caulk described the initiative -- which provides the chamber members crash courses in helping run school facilities for a day each -- as a first step in what he hoped would become an ongoing dialogue between the city's business and public education sectors.

"At the end of the day, what we hope to do is create relationships that will last a lifetime," he said….

Emmanuel Caulk. Monday, April 15, 2013 at 8:50 am. Priscilla Krasnow, 86, volunteers nearly every weekday in the fashion marketing class at Portland Arts and ...

Teachers at hearing decry plan to cut Portland jobs - The union offers other ways to save so the budget can minimize the impact on Portland students.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - April 9, 2013 

PORTLAND — More than 100 teachers turned out Tuesday night for a public hearing on a recommended school budget of almost $98 million that would eliminate as many as 24 jobs in the coming year, among other cuts….

Revised school plan would limit Portland tax hike - A public hearing on the $98 million budget will be held Tuesday. It goes to Portland voters May 14.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - April 5, 2013 

PORTLAND – The school board will take up a plan next week to cut spending in the proposed 2013-14 school budget by nearly $900,000 and increase non-tax revenues by about $400,000, to limit the property-tax increase needed for schools to about 3.7 percent.

The board's Finance Committee on Thursday approved the outline of budget revisions that will be the subject of a public hearing Tuesday.

The school board is expected to vote on the budget later this month, then send it to the City Council for a vote May 6. The budget will go to city voters on May 14.

The original budget proposed by Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk called for spending $98.9 million in the year that starts July 1. That would have required a property-tax increase of 5.7 percent for schools.

Caulk's budget called for cutting about 30 jobs, including nine teachers or educational technicians, three assistant principals, three custodians, six secretaries and six workers in the district's central office….

Portland residents face tax hike - The city manager's proposed budget seeks $3.9 million more from property owners.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - March 29, 2013 

PORTLAND – City Manager Mark Rees will present a $216 million budget proposal Monday that would increase property taxes for municipal services by 2.9 percent….

The city's current property tax rate is $18.82 per $1,000 valuation, with $9.57 going to schools and $9.25 for city services.

Rees' budget does not include Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk's proposed a $98.9 million school budget for 2013-14. That budget, which would eliminate 41 full-time positions, is based on $8 million in cost increases, $1.5 million of them coming from a LePage proposal to shift teacher retirement costs to school districts. Another $1.7 million in costs comes from deferred raises to teachers.

Caulk's budget is a 5 percent increase over the current budget of $94 million, and would increase property taxes for education by 3.7 percent…

LePage: Portland mayor 'stunningly cynical and shortsighted' in charter school challenge

Bangor Daily News (ME) - March 28, 2013 

PORTLAND, Maine -- Gov. Paul LePage took aim at what he called Mayor Michael Brennan's "campaign" against a proposed charter school in Maine's largest city, saying in a letter to the Portland mayor that he is "appalled by your constant attacks upon students who simply want to better learn technology and science."

Brennan, who has long opposed the proposed Baxter Academy for Technology and Science and charter schools in general, wrote to the state attorney general's office last week seeking an investigation into allegations of financial mismanagement at the startup school. The mayor said in his request that he planned to ask Portland Public Schools Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk to withhold tuition payments to the academy until the attorney general makes a decision on the case.

On Wednesday, Attorney General Janet Mills responded to Brennan and declined to look into the school, saying the Maine Commission on Charter Schools has the authority to ensure the academy's finances are sound. On Thursday, the governor followed up with a tersely worded letter of his own to the mayor, urging Brennan to "seek competent legal advice" before withholding tuition payments.

LePage wrote that Brennan's letter to the attorney general was "requesting her to conduct a host of inappropriate and unlawful activities designed to harass and intimidate a proposed charter school."

"Mr. Mayor, it is a stunningly cynical and shortsighted activity to try to stop students who are so interested in learning math and science from getting the education they crave and employers are requesting," the governor wrote, in part.

Brennan did not immediately respond to a phone call Thursday evening, but in past interviews has argued that students seeking specialized education tracks can do so without leaving the Portland Public Schools, which include the expeditionary learning-based Casco Bay High School and the Portland Arts & Technology High School….

Portland manager's budget challenged by councilor - Mark Rees' proposal is $10 million more than the current budget and would increase property taxes 3.3 percent.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - March 27, 2013 

PORTLAND – The head of the City Council's Finance Committee is criticizing the city manager's budget proposal, which would increase property taxes even though it ignores $10 million in possible reductions in state revenue….

Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk, meanwhile, has proposed a school budget that would require 5.7 percent more in property taxes for education. He has said his goal is to reduce the tax revenue increase to 3.7 percent….

Baxter Academy fans, foes clash on ‘dirty laundry’ at commission hearing

Sun-Journal (Lewiston, ME) - March 26, 2013 

AUGUSTA — Leaders of a proposed Portland charter school on Monday dismissed continued accusations of corruption and unethical behavior as “dirty laundry” and “noise,” and said they are focusing on the needs of potential students.

The Maine Charter School Commission applied fresh scrutiny to the proposed Baxter Academy for Technology and Science in a four-hour meeting Monday as controversy continued to simmer over the recent removal of the school’s founder.

The commission is scheduled to decide on April 8 whether to grant the academy a charter to open next September…

Portland Mayor Michael Brennan wrote to the state attorney general’s office on Friday seeking an investigation of the proposed charter school, referring to the academy’s allegations of “a pattern of mismanagement” in justifying its ouster of Jaques earlier this month.

Brennan has long opposed the allowance of charter schools and the creation of Baxter Academy in particular, arguing in part the charter schools would siphon government subsidies from already-cash-strapped public schools. In his Friday letter, Brennan told the attorney general he plans to ask Portland Public Schools Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk to withhold payments to the new school until the office can decide on an investigation…

Charter schools are public schools of choice that operate independently of local school districts. Maine became the 41st state to allow charter schools following a law that passed the Republican-controlled 125th Legislature in 2011. For every student it enrolls, a charter school receives a tuition payment from the student’s home school district.

Portland mayor wants state to probe allegations of financial mismanagement at charter school

Bangor Daily News (ME) - March 22, 2013 

AUGUSTA, Maine -- Portland's mayor is asking Maine's attorney general to investigate allegations of mismanagement at the Baxter Academy for Technology and Science. The charter high school's board of directors cited those allegations earlier this month in dismissing John Jaques, the school's founder and former executive director.

In a letter sent to Attorney General Janet Mills on Friday, Portland Mayor Michael Brennan said management changes at the school, which is expected to open in September, have "raised serious questions about its viability as well as concerns over the application process and subsequent approval granted by the Maine Charter School Commission."

Until the matter is settled, Brennan has asked Portland Schools Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk to withhold school district payments to the independently run school for any Portland public school students who attend next school year….

Speech outlines challenges ahead for Portland schools - The city must find ways to prepare for the future and compete against charter schools, Jaimey Caron says.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - March 19, 2013 

PORTLAND — Portland's public schools must do everything they can to stay competitive against charter schools, including investing in buildings, improving students' achievement and changing their culture.

That was the message of Jaimey Caron, chairman of the Portland Board of Public Education, in his State of the Schools speech on Monday.

Caron recalled the district's accomplishments over the last year and outlined the challenges ahead -- mainly increasing students' achievement in uncertain financial times.

Caron said the school board's biggest accomplishment last year was hiring Emmanuel Caulk as superintendent.

"Looking ahead, it seems hiring a superintendent was the easy part," Caron said.

"Creating a culture of teamwork and accountability in the face of significant changes is hard work."

Caron alluded to the ongoing challenges of ensuring equity across the district.

"Too often, it feels like a zero sum game pitting teachers and schools against one another for dwindling resources," he said. "The loudest or most organized voices often prevail at the expense of more comprehensive solutions."

Caron said the district will soon form a Budget and Revenue Advisory Task Force to look for creative ways to bring more revenue to the district and reduce the volatility of the budget.

The board has hired a consultant to do a comprehensive review of the schools' organizational structure, including job descriptions and salary comparisons. Caron said that report, which is due in June, will provide for a more accountable, student-focused district.

The board is also reviewing its own policies for comprehensive planning, governance and public engagement.

The aim is to ensure "continuous self-evaluation" and clarify the decision-making process, Caron said.

Three major challenges lie ahead: competition from charter schools, lingering economic uncertainty and a changing public education system…

Mar 18, 2013 ... Superintendent's Notebook: Proposed Portland school budget reflects community values. Emmanuel Caulk. Monday, March 18, 2013 at 9:00 ...

Flat funding won't stave off cuts, Maine higher education officials warn lawmakers

Bangor Daily News (ME) - March 18, 2013 

AUGUSTA, Maine -- The leaders of Maine's public education institutions presented a mixed message to Legislature's budget committee Monday.

While the leaders of the University of Maine System, community colleges and Maine Maritime Academy said Monday morning that they were grateful to be offered flat funding, given state government's lingering fiscal difficulties, their institutions are nonetheless faced with making cuts rather than additions even though demand for their services is as high as it has been in years.

At issue is Gov. Paul LePage's biennial budget proposal, which is currently under consideration by the Legislature, beginning with what are expected to be weeks of public hearings before the Legislature's Appropriations Committee. The budget bill, which will be debated for the next few months in Augusta, covers state spending for two years beginning on July 1.

LePage has proposed essentially flat funding for higher education institutions and public schools during the next two years. But as some described, rising and uncontrollable costs, as well as aging infrastructure in some buildings, add up to a bleak financial situation….

Parents, students and teachers also testified, many of them against the portions of the budget that affect local public schools. A proposal by LePage to have local districts begin to fund half the cost of teacher retirements drew a lot of criticism. Emmanuel Caulk, superintendent of Portland Public Schools, said property taxpayers there have borne steep increases in recent years, which will continue if the retirement proposal goes forward.

"We need the state as our partner, therefore I'm asking you to reconsider shifting the retirement costs," said Caulk. "I'm asking you to make an investment and the appropriate investment is in our children."

Portland students relocated thanks to leaky roof - The 30 West School kids will attend the former Cathedral School, rented for $500 a day.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - February 25, 2013 

PORTLAND — Increasing winter maintenance problems at the West School on Douglass Street have forced school officials to move some students to the former Cathedral School on Locust Street, district officials said Monday…

The district will lease the Cathedral School from the diocese for $500 per day, about $15,000 per month, likely through June, Eglinton said. The district leased the former Catholic school last fall when the Hall Elementary School was being repaired after a fire.

"We appreciate the diocese's willingness to rent to us again at short notice," said Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk in a news release…

Feb 18, 2013 ... Superintendent's Notebook: Tackling real-world problems makes learning come alive. Emmanuel Caulk. Monday, February 18, 2013 at 11:20 ...


Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Maine Sunday Telegram (Portland, ME)) - February 17, 2013 


School district will freeze hiring, cut expenditures

Portland Public Schools officials are cutting $870,089 from the current operating budget by adopting a hiring freeze and taking other money-saving measures in anticipation of decreases in state aid.

The measures were announced Friday by Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk, who said the cuts are in response to Gov. Paul LePage's December curtailment order to eliminate $12.6 million in general purpose aid to Maine schools.

Last week, the Legislature's Appropriations Committee approved LePage's order, which is now awaiting action by the full Legislature.

Caulk said Portland schools must start preparing now for the possible adoption of LePage's order.

"As difficult as it is to absorb these cuts more than halfway into the school year, we remain committed to using all available resources to support student achievement," Caulk said.

The hiring freeze, which applies to all noncritical positions, could save $200,000 to $300,000, school officials said. The district is freezing the purchase of all books and periodicals; nonessential athletic and co-curricular supplies; staff travel that is not contractually obligated; and the use of the Portland school board's contingency fund.

Caulk said he does not expect the financial situation to improve any time soon, due to a $700 million revenue gap expected in the next biennial state budget; the opening of new charter schools, which will take money from public schools; rising costs; and a sluggish economy…

Portland Schools to make $870,089 in spending cuts

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - February 16, 2013 

Portland school officials are cutting $870,089 from the current operating budget by adopting a hiring freeze and taking other money-saving measures in anticipation of decreases in state aid.

The measures were announced Friday by Portland School Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk who said the cuts are in response to Gov. Paul LePage’s December curtailment order to eliminate $12.6 million in general purpose aid to Maine Schools.

This week the Maine Legislature’s Appropriations Committee approved LePage’s order which is now awaiting action by the full Legislature.

Caulk said Portland schools must start preparing now for the possible adoption of LePage’s order.

“As difficult as it is to absorb these cuts more than halfway into the school year, we remain committed to using all available resources to support student achievement,” Caulk said.

The hiring freeze, which applies to all non-critical positions could save $200,000 to $300,000, school officials said. The district is freezing the purchase of all books and periodicals, nonessential athletic and co-curricular supplies, staff travel that is not contractually obligated and the use of the Portland Board of Public Education’s contingency fund.

Caulk said he does not expect the financial situation to improve any time soon due to a $700 million revenue gap expected in the next biennial state budget, the opening of new charter schools that will taken money from public schools, rising costs and a sluggish economy….

Schools: Kids not in danger in Reiche case

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - February 14, 2013 

PORTLAND — School officials said Thursday that no children were in danger when a parent allegedly made derogatory racial comments and threatened a group of children at Reiche Community School on Wednesday afternoon.

Derek Weeks, 32, of Portland was arrested and charged with seven counts of criminal threatening and one count of interfering with constitutional and civil rights after the incident around 3 p.m. at the school on Brackett Street.

He remained in the Cumberland County Jail on Thursday. His bail was set at $250,000.

He is due to make an initial court appearance Friday.

Police said Weeks was with his child at an after-school event on the playground when he made derogatory racial comments directed at another group of children in grades 3 to 5.

Witnesses told police that Weeks then made a gesture with his hand as if it were a gun and threatened to shoot the children.

Police said Weeks did not display a gun and none was found during the investigation of the incident.

Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk said the school department works with police to make sure students are safe.

"Fortunately," he said, "no child was endangered during the incident at Reiche."

In a statement issued Thursday, Caulk said the "incident by one troubled parent does not define our school district or our community. We will never tolerate such extremely inappropriate behavior in our schools or on our school grounds."

Caulk noted that this is Black History Month, when "students throughout the Portland Public Schools are learning about the contributions that African-Americans have made to our country."

In Portland, a call to arms on gun limits - City, school and police leaders in Portland add their voices as a national group mobilizes local communities to join the debate.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - January 14, 2013 

PORTLAND — Portland's top city and school officials joined leaders from hundreds of cities nationwide Monday – one month after the massacre in Newtown, Conn. – to call for tighter controls on the purchase and distribution of firearms.

Portland Mayor Michael F. Brennan, flanked by education, police and medical officials, called for universal background checks for gun purchasers; a ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines; and enhanced federal penalties for gun trafficking.

"There are two rights that are involved here," said Brennan. "The right of people to have access to guns. But there is also the right that we have as a community to protect our children and protect our citizens. We want to make sure we enact common-sense proposals that balance these two rights."

The news conference came on the one-month anniversary of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and one day before Vice President Joe Biden is expected to announce national gun-control proposals…

The notion of arming teachers was dismissed by Emmanuel Caulk, Portland school superintendent, who said Monday that teachers are hired to focus on instructing students -- not shooting at threatening intruders. "They (teachers) should not be expected to act as armed guards to serve as judge, jury and executioner," Caulk said.

As Caulk and other city leaders push for regulations, school superintendents and educators across the state continue to react to the Newtown shootings by re-examining safety plans…

Portland, Biddeford school officials laud new grant awards after state rescinded previous round

Bangor Daily News (ME) - January 9, 2013 

PORTLAND, Maine -- A nine-month-old controversy over a slate of grants awarded -- and then rescinded -- by the Maine Department of Education was water under the bridge Wednesday for local school officials who are expecting more money through the program than the previous time around.

"It's taken a lot of emails, a lot of phone calls and a lot of tough conversations with the Department of Education, but that's all behind us now," said Maine Senate President Justin Alfond, a Portland Democrat who was critical of the department during earlier stages of the grant application process.

On Wednesday, representatives of the Portland nonprofit LearningWorks held a news conference to announce that they had been awarded $2.4 million in 21st Century program grant money by the department to launch afterschool and summer programs at elementary schools in Portland and Biddeford…

"It's really about having students graduate from high school, college- or career-ready without the need for remediation," said Emmanuel Caulk, superintendent of the Portland Public Schools at Wednesday's event. "We understand that where students get off-track is really at the elementary level."

Portland taps veteran Richmond, Va., official to take powerful new second-in-command post

Bangor Daily News (ME) - January 4, 2013 

PORTLAND, Maine -- Portland City Manager Mark Rees has chosen a veteran public official from Richmond, Va., to step into a new, powerful position in Maine's largest city…

With an annual salary of approximately $125,000, Hill-Christian would become the third highest-paid Portland public official, behind Rees with a budgeted salary of $143,000 and Portland Public Schools Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk at $137,500…

Portland schools seek input on future - The city's aging schools have improvement plans, but parents need to weigh in, officials say.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - January 4, 2013 

PORTLAND - Longfellow Elementary School needs a cafeteria, a gymnasium, a dedicated computer laboratory and more storage space for students and teachers.

Those are just a few of the items on the wish list of parents who attended the first of five public forums that are planned before the school board, the City Council and Portland voters are asked to approve elementary school improvement projects costing as much as $46 million.

"This is really important work," said Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk. "I firmly believe that all students should have access to a great school."

About 40 people attended Thursday's forum at Longfellow Elementary School.

Caulk said the district also wants to make improvements to Reiche Community School, Lyseth Elementary School and Presumpscot Elementary School, and wants to replace Hall Elementary School.

Caulk said the Buildings for our Future project is intended to bring equity to Portland schools, ensuring that students in all elementary schools have access to the same educational programs, services and benefits.

Once each school community has weighed in at the forums, a list of construction projects will be developed and presented to the school board and City Council for approval.

That plan would then be presented to Portland voters in November as a bond package…

Caulk urged parents to build support for the school improvement funding package by talking to friends and neighbors.

"This is building for our future. It's an investment," he said..

Maine schools take precautions over threat

Associated Press State Wire: Maine (ME) - December 20, 2012 

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The Maine State Police chief says there's no credible threat following a rumor on Facebook said somebody was threatening harm to schools in Cumberland and York counties.

Col. Robert Williams said Friday that investigators have "chased baseless rumors for the past 24 hours."

School officials in Portland and Gorham earlier said they were increasing the police presence at schools after hearing about a Facebook message suggesting schools would be targeted on Friday.

Portland Schools Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk said the threat wasn't confirmed and doesn't name schools by name, but that school officials take all threats seriously.

In an open letter to parents, Gorham Superintendent Ted Sharp asked them to be attentive to conversations, emails, Facebook postings and behavioral changes.

Police check possible threat against schools in York, Cumberland counties

Sun-Journal (Lewiston, ME) - December 20, 2012 

PORTLAND — Police are investigating a rumor spread on Facebook that someone intends to do harm in high schools in Cumberland and York counties on Dec. 21, a school official announced Wednesday.

Portland Public Schools Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk released a statement to the media after a meeting was held involving high school principals, school district leaders and the Portland Police Department to review security measures for schools.

“Although the message does not refer specifically to the Portland Public Schools and we have no evidence that the threat is real, we are taking every precaution to protect our students and staff,” Caulk said in his statement.

He added that police have not confirmed the authenticity of the message, but are investigating.

In the wake of last week’s school shooting in Newtown, Conn., many have been on edge, said Lt. Jim Sweatt of the Portland Police Department.

“It’s upset everyone, from police officers to young children,” Sweatt said Wednesday evening…

Caulk said in his statement that Deering and Portland High Schools will continue to have a full-time police officer on site. Casco Bay High School and Portland Arts and Technology High School will have a police officer on Friday.

“We take seriously any and all threats and work with police to investigate them appropriately,” Caulk said.

He added that last week’s school shooting has been difficult for students, parents and staff.

“In these days, specifically after the incident in Connecticut, you have to play it safe,” said Sanborn. “We’re certainly working tediously to follow up on leads. Hopefully, if there is something, we’re able to avert it.”

Portland superintendent: Threat made against local schools - Police say they're investigating a Facebook message, which claims harm could come to schools in York or Cumberland counties on Friday.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - December 19, 2012 

PORTLAND — Portland and Gorham public schools will have an increased police presence through the rest of the week, after an alleged Facebook message was posted threatening harm to schools in Cumberland and York counties.

Portland School Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk issued a press release Wednesday night saying the Portland Police Department had met with high school principals about the message.

“All of our schools have emergency plans in place and our staff members are familiar with those plans,” the release said. “Deering and Portland High Schools will continue to have full-time police officers on site to provide assistance, and an officer will be provided on December 21 to the Casco Bay High School and Portland Arts and Technology High School location. In addition, the police will continue their increased patrols for this week, in the aftermath of the Newtown, Connecticut incident. We take seriously any and all threats and work with police to investigate them appropriately.”

The release said the message did not refer specifically to Portland Public Schools and there was no indication the threat was real, but the district was “taking every precaution to protect our students and staff.” …

Jan 14, 2013 ... Superintendent's Notebook: Portland's public high schools offer many 'Pathways to Success'. Emmanuel Caulk. Monday, January 14, 2013 at ...

Superintendent's Notebook: Portland High School students make a difference. Emmanuel Caulk. Monday, December 17, 2012 at 10:00 am. Ten students from ...

Vigil in Maine held for Conn. shooting victims

Associated Press State Wire: Maine (ME) - December 17, 2012 

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A candlelight vigil in Portland brought expressions of sympathy and support for the victims of the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., along with calls for stricter gun control laws.

More than 100 people attended the Sunday night vigil in Portland's Monument Square, which was organized by the Maine Citizens Against Handgun Violence.

Bill Harwood, a founding member of the group, called on the state to do more regulate gun sales and keep weapons away from people who may be mentally ill.

Portland Mayor Michael Brennan also said the Connecticut tragedy shows the need for tougher laws. He said people do not need to own assault rifles to hunt or protect themselves.

School superintendent Emmanuel Caulk told the gathering that Portland schools have taken steps to make students are safe.

Maine schools try to reassure parents, children - Counseling, phone calls and greater sensitivity are tools they're using to deal with reactions to Newtown.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - December 17, 2012 

School officials throughout southern Maine offered support to anxious students Monday and reassured parents about the safety of their children during school hours.

On the first school morning since the deadly shootings in an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., stunned the nation, superintendents reached out to parents in emails and automated phone calls promising extra security and access to counselors.

At least one school directly addressed the tragedy in the morning announcements, offering students a chance to talk about their feelings.

For the most part, however, schools maintained normal routines as much as possible and kept guidance counselors on standby for students who needed support…

Portland Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk said in a prepared statement that counseling would be available to students but that it was important for school to go on as usual.

"Providing a calm, dependable environment at school is the best way that we can help our students through this tragedy," Caulk said…

In his statement, Portland Superintendent Caulk told parents that the city's police department is stepping up patrols around the schools…

Speakers at Portland vigil call for gun control, urge Maine lawmakers to 'stand up to the NRA'

Bangor Daily News (ME) - December 16, 2012 

PORTLAND, Maine -- More than 100 people braved the arrival of Portland's first winter snow storm Sunday night to gather in solidarity with grieving families in Newtown, Conn., and in support of stiffer gun control laws.

The organization Maine Citizens Against Handgun Violence held a vigil in Monument Square on Sunday, one day after similar gatherings took place in Rockland and multiple other locations across the country.

Friday morning's horrific mass shooting in Newtown -- where 20-year-old Adam Lanza killed 20 6- and 7-year-old children, seven adults and himself -- has reinvigorated debate nationwide about gun control.

In Portland, Mayor Michael Brennan was among many Sunday to express frustration with what he described as political stagnation on the issue of stronger restrictions on gun ownership…
Emmanuel Caulk, superintendent of the Portland Public Schools, urged parents to hug their children, reassure them and answer their questions in the aftermath of the Connecticut shootings.

Caulk, who became emotional when he spoke, said the attack "violated us all."

"This act has really shaken the core and fabric of our schools," he said, adding, "It is unimaginable to think as we went about our normal routines Friday morning, this tragedy struck our neighbors in Newtown, Conn."…

Maine leaders react to 'senseless violence'

Sun-Journal (Lewiston, ME) - December 15, 2012 

AUGUSTA — Mainers, including Gov. Paul LePage, congressional leaders, school and gun control officials, reacted with sadness to the tragic school shooting deaths Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn…

Portland school Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk said in a statement that employees had Newtown in their thoughts and prayers. Social workers will be available on Monday for any Portland students who need support, he said.

“No words can truly convey the sadness we feel for the students and families affected by this event,” Caulk said…

Portland schools end support for pregame bonfire tradition - Booster clubs have held the spirit rallies, but the district says there's a risk of injury and property damage.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - November 20, 2012 

PORTLAND – A longtime tradition to stoke school spirit in the city has been extinguished.

Portland Public Schools will no longer support bonfires organized by athletic booster groups to rally team spirit before games because of concerns about safety and property damage.

The fires were traditionally held on the night before the annual Thanksgiving Day football game between Portland and Deering high schools.

The 101st Turkey Day Game will be played at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

Deering held its bonfires on an athletic field at the school, while Portland High's bonfires were held in an open space at Deering Oaks.

School officials said the decision to discontinue the fires was made because of the risk of injury and property damage.

The schools were notified of the decision last year, and Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk sent out a memo last week reinforcing the school district's position.

"While Portland Public Schools generally supports community events and celebrations, we must consider individual's safety and care of community property first and foremost," Caulk wrote in the memo Nov. 16 to principals and athletic directors:

"Due to the inherent risks and costs of bonfires, we will no longer support the organizing of bonfires for the district."

In the statement, Caulk said the school department's insurance provider "strongly discourages" bonfires because of their risk for personal injury and property damage…

City Manager Mark Rees said the city was not involved in the school department's discussions about ending the bonfires, but supports the decision.

In years past, bonfires were common at high schools across the state to drum up school spirit before games against rival schools.

"We have learned through conversations with other school districts that very few schools still hold bonfires," Caulk said in the memo…

Portland school locked down for brief time after student brings unloaded gun into building

Bangor Daily News (ME) - November 16, 2012 

PORTLAND, Maine -- Riverton Elementary School was locked down for a short time Friday morning after a student brought a gun into the building.

Portland Superintendent of Schools Emmanuel Caulk said the gun was not loaded and was confiscated from the unidentified student.

The incident forced a short lockdown of the Forest Avenue school while officials and police investigated, according to Caulk.

The school since has returned to its normal academic day, Caulk said. Police and school officials are investigating the matter.

No children were hurt during the incident. The school houses students in grades K-5.

Unloaded gun taken from boy at school - School officials and police praise another student, who saw the gun and took it to a teacher.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - November 16, 2012 

PORTLAND - Police say they plan to issue a court summons to a 10-year-old student who brought an unloaded handgun to Riverton Elementary School on Friday morning.

School officials and police praised another student, who saw the gun and took it to a teacher.

Acting Police Chief Vern Malloch said no threat was made and no ammunition was found.

"Keep in mind, one student violated the policy," Malloch said. "A young man brought a gun to school. But another student knew to do the right thing and recognized it as a danger and took the gun and brought it to a teacher."

Police investigated a report two weeks ago that the same boy had brought a gun to school. After multiple interviews with students and the child's parents, they determined that the report was untrue.

If the boy had had a gun then, he would have been suspended and charged, Malloch said.

Police have not determined whether there was a connection between the report two weeks ago and Friday's incident.

Malloch, Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk and Riverton Principal Jeanne Malia held a news conference at noon outside the school off Forest Avenue.

Caulk said the student who reported the gun did an admirable thing, although students are expected to report such incidents.

He said parents should speak with their children about what is appropriate to bring to school, and check children's bookbags to make sure they aren't bringing anything prohibited.

Police were called to the school at 8:30 a.m. The school was locked down for more than an hour. Classes resumed once police determined there were no other guns in the school.

Police are continuing their investigation and are still trying to determine where the boy got the gun.

They said the charge against him would be the adult equivalent of possession of a gun on school grounds.

Portland school officials to ask for as much as $46M for districtwide elementary school overhaul

Bangor Daily News (ME) - November 13, 2012 

PORTLAND, Maine -- Portland voters a year from now may see on their ballots a $46 million local bond item to fund the replacement of one school and renovations at four others.

Portland Public Schools officials announced Tuesday the hiring of the Biddeford-based architecture and engineering firm Oak Point Associates to develop site plans, construction schedules and costs for an ambitious bundle of projects aimed at reinventing half of the city's 10 elementary schools…

Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk told reporters Tuesday during a news conference assembled at Hall School that the slate of proposed projects is necessary to provide equity across the city's schools -- evening out a playing field in which some students in some neighborhoods currently learn in adequate spaces with the latest technology infrastructure, while others use closets and hallways for teacher conferences because their buildings are overcrowded.

By the time voters go to the polls for Election Day 2013, Caulk said the district hopes to have gotten council approval for a bond item that will provide the system with perhaps its biggest one-time facelift ever….

Plan would spend $46 million on Portland elementary schools

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - November 13, 2012 

PORTLAND — School officials have proposed a sweeping, $46 million renovation plan for five deteriorating elementary schools in the city.

The plan comes more than two decades after the last major taxpayer-funded renovation effort, and caps four years of study and effort to determine how best to improve the deteriorating schools…

"We have a lot of buildings that have a lot of character," said Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk. "The renovations at each school could vary."

Among the design challenges will be to maintain the unique feel of each school while providing a higher-quality learning environment, Caulk said…

Portland students reporting to Cathedral for at least this week

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - September 24, 2012 

PORTLAND – Portland school officials said Monday night that they couldn't say when Hall Elementary School students might be able to return to their fire-damaged school.

For at least this week, Hall's 437 students, in grades K-5, will be bused to and from Cathedral School on Congress Street…

"It's not going to be the entire year, but we certainly don't expect to return to the Hall school this week," Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk told the audience, after a parent asked how long the arrangement would last.

Hall school was closed Sept. 17 after an early-morning fire broke out, causing extensive smoke and water damage to the school. The cause of the fire has been described as electrical.

More than 7,000 gallons of water from the school's sprinkler system were discharged during the fire. Three classrooms were heavily damaged and will need extensive repairs…

Local & State Dispatches

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - September 19, 2012 


Bangor Savings Bank gives $10,000 to Hall Elementary

Bangor Savings Bank donated $10,000 to the Hall Elementary School on Wednesday, to help teachers and students replace some of the items they lost in a fire early Monday that forced the school's closure.

The $10,000 check was presented to Hall teachers and staff at Deering High School. The teachers and staff have been using the high school as a temporary workplace until the Hall school reopens Monday.

Books and classroom supplies were destroyed by water and smoke, items that had taken teachers as long as a decade to acquire, said Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk.

Bangor Savings Bank's Brighton Avenue branch is a longtime business partner of Hall school….

Superintendent's Notebook: Let's talk about books. Emmanuel Caulk. Monday, September 17, 2012. I love to read. Books have introduced me to faraway places  ...

Great school energy on Day 1

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - September 7, 2012 

PORTLAND — Nearly 7,000 students across Maine's largest school district began the new school year Thursday under a new superintendent…

New Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk stopped in at several schools Thursday afternoon to welcome the staff and students back to class.

At King Middle School, he arrived as Principal Michael McCarthy spoke before an assembly of sixth-graders.

Invited up on stage, Caulk told the students that this favorite school year was sixth grade, because "that's when I was turned on to learning."

His teacher inspired him to become an educator and even today, he said, he carries his sixth-grade report card in his wallet.

"I'll be back to see your report card," Caulk said, holding up the folded-up report card, "and I will show you mine."

Caulk also visited Hall Elementary School and Ocean Avenue Elementary School. At each school, he greeted students and teachers with a quick smile and contagious enthusiasm.

Caulk, 40, came to Portland from Philadelphia, where he was an assistant superintendent in charge of 36 of the 249 schools in the nation's eighth-largest school system. He replaced James Morse, who was superintendent for three years…

Portland's new superintendent embarks on listening tour - 'Manny' Caulk says he wants to learn what's working and what's valued in the district before making decisions.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - September 6, 2012 

PORTLAND – Holding teachers accountable is a necessary part of professional development, the city's new superintendent said Wednesday at Reiche Elementary School.

Emmanuel Caulk shared his thoughts at the first of seven "Listening & Learning" sessions scheduled in September and October throughout Portland schools.

Caulk, who asked to be called "Manny," said he also believes that people should try every day "to be better than you were."

"I believe in leadership and accountability," Caulk said. "No one has higher expectations of me than myself."

About 20 parents, teachers and community members attended the informal meeting at the West End neighborhood school.

Caulk, 40, grew up in public housing in Wilmington, Del. He has bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Delaware and a law degree from Widener University School of Law in Delaware. He is working on a doctorate from National Louis University in Chicago.

For the last three years, Caulk was an assistant superintendent in Philadelphia, overseeing 36 public schools with 16,000 students, more than twice the 7,000 students in Portland.

Before that, he was an assistant superintendent of 15 public high schools in East Baton Rouge, La., and a leadership coach and administrator in Chicago public schools.

Caulk's three-year contract in Portland provides a $137,500 annual salary and offers 5 percent merit pay increases in the second and third years if he meets certain goals for improving "teaching, learning and student outcomes."

On Wednesday, several people urged Caulk to seek ways to increase educational success in Portland's immigrant community, for both school-age children and their parents, especially those who speak little English. Students at Reiche speak more than 20 languages.

"There has to be a way of connecting the two -- nourishing the parents and nourishing the students," said Alfred Jacob, a Sudanese immigrant who is a community specialist in the school district's multilingual program.

Susan Lieberman, whose children attend Hall Elementary and Lincoln Middle schools, pointed out the need to ensure that all students across the district have effective teachers.

Tim Wilson, retired director of the Seeds of Peace International Camp in Otisfield, encouraged Caulk to form partnerships with other agencies that work with Portland's immigrant community, including Maine Medical Center and the University of Southern Maine.

Wilson also suggested that Caulk should reach out to students to find out what's working in the district and what should be improved.

Caulk said he plans to hold round-table discussions and town meetings with various groups in the district, including students and citizens who may not have kids in the schools but have talents to share.

Caulk said he wants to learn what's working and what's valued in the district -- what he called Portland's "points of pride" -- before making decisions. He also wants to foster an atmosphere that promotes personalized learning, teacher flexibility and entrepreneurial education.

"I'd love to see our schools be as great as our city," he said.

Portland superintendent creates two high-level jobs - The school board also asks the City Council to authorize the purchase of a former seafood plant.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - August 28, 2012 

PORTLAND – Emmanuel "Manny" Caulk has been Portland's superintendent for only a week, but he already has made changes that school officials say will have an impact for years to come.

Caulk has created two high-level administrative jobs, both of which won unanimous approval from the school board Tuesday night.

The deputy chief for shared accountability will be paid $102,500 a year and be responsible for gathering and analyzing data that could be used in applications for grants that benefit school programs.

Money for that position will be allocated from two jobs that are being eliminated, Caulk said: the humanities curriculum coordinator and the science, technology, engineering and math curriculum coordinator.

The new coordinator of parent and community engagement, who will be paid $82,500 a year, will serve as a liaison between the community and the school district. Funding for that position will come from a three-year Nellie Mae Education Foundation grant.

The coordinator will be a liaison for parents, businesses and faith-based organizations, and work to make the school system more transparent by communicating its plans and needs to the community.

School board members said both positions, which will be advertised this week, have been needed for some time.

"There is a lot of frustration out there, especially when people can't get their questions answered," said Kate Snyder, the school board's chairwoman. "We need to get better at communicating outwardly with the community."

Caulk, 40, who started his job Aug. 20, came to Portland from Philadelphia, where he was an assistant superintendent in charge of 36 of the 249 schools in the nation's eighth-largest school system.

Though school board members showed wholehearted support for the administrative changes, one parent disagreed.

Mark Usinger, whose son is a student at Deering High School, said, "Out there in the real world, everyone is cutting back. The people I talk to are telling me the school department is overloaded at the top. This is not a wealthy community. We can't afford more high-priced, top management people."…

Letters to the Editor, Sept. 12, 2012

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - August 14, 2012 

Educator's use of jargon makes message a mystery

It is not encouraging to read an opening statement about Portland schools by the newly appointed superintendent, Emmanuel Caulk (Maine Voices, "Classroom success depends on more than just teachers," Aug. 23).

Of course, it may not be fair to judge by one example, but Caulk declares himself to be "excited to become part of this 'vibrant city.' "

He is, he writes, "committed to fostering an organizational culture that puts students first."

I haven't the foggiest idea what that means.

What is an "organizational culture"? Is it to be "fostered"? If so, what does that mean? It sounds like a booster for West Nile virus.

This is really quite tricky stuff, for it sounds impressive.

"Organizational culture" sounds as though it were identifying an important academic entity, one that had fluttered down from the higher realms of human thought intending to point our way to salvation.

If Caulk had written of an organized culture, we would, at least, have a hard crust to bite on because a culture is exactly that which is not organized, unless you want to point to a totalitarian regime, which usually leaves all of the cultured outside.

No. There is no way to redeem "organizational culture."

It is a phrase meant to bamboozle, to confuse, to intimidate. It is a phrase with no "sound and fury," but it does signify "nothing."

Caulk's language is infinitely more dangerous than anything Gov. Le-Page has blasted us with.

L. Morrill Burke, Long Island

Portland gets new schools superintendent

Associated Press State Wire: Maine (ME) - July 10, 2012 

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Portland's public schools have a new superintendent.

The city's Board of Public Education on Monday ratified a three-year contract for Emmanuel Caulk, who most recently was regional assistant superintendent in Philadelphia.

The 40-year-old Caulk said one of his primary initiatives would be to form parent advisory councils in the city's 16 public schools to help determine how money is spent and how the community can bring additional resources.

The Portland Press Herald ( ) reports that Caulk said parents should be engaged in partnerships with principals in "shared decision making."

His challenges include meeting the needs of the growing number of students who are from poor and immigrant families while at the same time providing the same rigorous education that private and suburban schools offer.

He starts Aug. 20.

Portland's new superintendent begins setting course - Emmanuel Caulk proposes creating parent advisory councils in Portland schools.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - July 10, 2012 

PORTLAND — The city's new school superintendent wants to form parent advisory councils in the 16 public schools to help determine how money is spent and how the community can bring additional resources.

Emmanuel Caulk spoke about the idea Monday after the Portland Board of Public Education ratified his three-year contract. He said the approach works in Philadelphia, where Caulk has been regional assistant superintendent for the past three years, overseeing a section of the city that serves 16,500 students, more than twice Portland's enrollment.

"It truly makes a difference when parents are at the table," he said after the meeting. "They understand the resources that a school has. But they also understand the needs and the resource gaps."

He said parents are often able to leverage community resources to fill those gaps.

An outgoing person with an easy laugh and a fondness for sports metaphors, Caulk, 40, excels at community engagement, say members of the search committee that recommended him to replace Jim Morse, who took a job in New Hampshire after three years as Portland's superintendent. They say Caulk's support for parent advisory councils is indicative of his collaborative leadership style.

In Philadelphia, Caulk is known for getting out of the central office to spend time in schools and the community, said Kate Hersom, a Portland resident who served on the search committee.

One school principal told her that Caulk played basketball with a group of middle school boys every week for two months so he could encourage them to work harder in school.

She said Caulk is so well liked in Philadelphia that she feels a bit guilty that Portland has lured him away.

"I feel like we are ripping him right out of the arms of the people who love him down there," she said.

Caulk will begin his new job on Aug. 20. He will lead a district that faces some big challenges.

School officials are struggling to meet the needs of the growing number of students who are from poor families and immigrant families. At the same time, they are under pressure from middle-class families to provide the same rigorous education that private schools and suburban schools offer.

While all of the candidates to be Portland's superintendent talked about closing the achievement gap, Caulk was the only one who said he wanted to raise academic standards for top students, said school board member Marnie Morrione. She said that approach is what many middle-class parents want as they decide whether to send their children to Portland schools

Many immigrant families aren't engaged in the school system and have no input, said Alfred Jacob, a Sudanese immigrant and community specialist at the school system's Multilingual and Multicultural Center.

Jacob said he likes Caulk's idea of creating parent advisory councils, and said that Caulk's engaging personality will help him reach immigrant families.

"He seems like someone whom I can work with and bring different voices to the table," Jacob said.

School board Chairwoman Kate Snyder said she is intrigued by Caulk's idea for parent advisory councils. Now, each school principal determines how to engage with parents; Caulk's proposal would be a district-wide approach. Snyder said it seems like a good structure for encouraging people to engage with the school system.

Speaking to the board, Caulk said parents should be engaged in partnerships with principals in "shared decision-making."

"It takes an entire community to assure the success of its public schools," he said.

Caulk's three-year contract calls for a $137,500 annual salary plus 5 percent merit pay incentives in the second and third years for meeting certain goals for improving "teaching, learning and student outcomes."

New Portland superintendent described as raising the bar for all students

Bangor Daily News (ME) - July 9, 2012 

PORTLAND, Maine -- The next superintendent of Portland schools was described as someone who will be active in the schools, vigilant about student performance data, and focused on raising expectations for students across all achievement levels.

Emmanuel Caulk, an assistant superintendent in the Philadelphia public schools, bested 159 applicants to become the next top administrator in Maine's largest school district. The Portland school board on Monday night unanimously approved a three-year employment agreement with Caulk during a brief meeting at City Hall, then held a reception for the new superintendent immediately afterward.

"Mr. Caulk was the only candidate who not only talked about closing the achievement gap, but also raising the bar for the highest achieving students," said Portland Board of Education member Marnie Morrione on Monday night.

Fellow board member Sarah Thompson, who was chairwoman of the district superintendent search committee, said Caulk struck committee members as "results-based" and "data-driven," but also "personable" and "insightful."

"He is passionate about education and improving the lives of students and their parents," she said during the meeting.

Caulk, who was in Portland for the event Monday, said he plans to launch a series of "listening and learning" sessions early in his tenure to identify from teachers, parents, administrators and community members what challenges face the schools and what ideas they might have for solutions.

"I believe it takes an entire community to ensure the success of the schools," he told board members Monday night after they approved his hiring, adding, "I believe victory is in the classroom. Therefore, we must have talented teachers in every classroom."

Board member Jaimey Caron was one of several who spoke Monday to note Caulk's "focus on all students" across the academic spectrum. Former Cumberland County Sheriff and current Democratic state Rep. Mark Dion lauded Caulk for sharing his interest in reaching out to at-risk students, while school board Chairwoman Kate Snyder said she was struck by Caulk's awareness of the need to push high achievers even higher.

Caulk, a former lawyer, likened building a successful school district to building a successful sports team, as professional football coach Bill Belichick has done over the past 12 years with the New England Patriots. Caulk said finding success in the education world is about putting administrators and faculty members in positions to use their strengths and getting them help when they need it.

"Everybody's got the same playbook," he told reporters after the board meeting. "It's about execution."

Caulk, who also has served as an administrator for public school districts in Chicago and East Baton Rouge, La., will take over for James Morse on Aug. 20. Morse's three-year contract as Portland's top school administrator ended on June 30 and he has accepted a job as the superintendent for the Durham, N.H.-based Oyster River School System.

Deering High School Principal Ira Waltz has been named interim superintendent by the Portland board to bridge the gap between Morse's departure and Caulk's official arrival.

Caulk was one of two finalists for the Portland job who agreed to meet with the public in recent months, the other being Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard, a deputy superintendent of the Paterson, N.J., public schools.

Search consultants from the Illinois-based firm PROACT during an aggressive spring outreach campaign found that Portlanders from a variety of backgrounds hoped for an administrator with experience in a diverse, urban environment, as opposed to a superintendent from a smaller, rural district.

In Philadelphia, Caulk oversaw 36 schools and 16,500 students -- more than twice the student population he'll see in Portland.

"He impressed me with his comment that Portland is 'small enough to be agile,'" Snyder said Monday night. "That's a pretty interesting perspective, because to a lot of folks, Portland is pretty big."

Caulk will be paid $137,500 in base salary annually during his initial three-year contract, which runs through June 30, 2015. The deal also includes provisions allowing for as much as 5 percent in bonus money in years two and three of the agreement, to be awarded at the discretion of the school board in consideration of the district's progress toward student achievement, teacher development and parent engagement goals.

Top Seat or Hot Seat?

Diverse City
By SHAY STEWART-BOULEY  |  July 18, 2012 The Boston Phoenix

It must be challenging to come into a top spot for something in Maine, even in Portland, when you're not a Mainer. After all, the term for non-native people in Maine is "from away." I think being a person of color only makes it more challenging.

Case in point: Portland has a new school superintendent coming on board in August and, even though the new fella hasn't even started yet, it seems that some people are already betting on how long it will be before Emmanuel Caulk leaves his new position. And yes, as you've probably already guessed from my intro, Caulk, who beat out more than 150 other candidates and most recently served in Philadelphia as an assistant regional superintendent, happens to be black.

Eyebrows may be raised already that he will not stay long given that Portland not so long ago got its first-ever black police chief, James Craig, who served an awfully short tenure of roughly two years after arriving here from Los Angeles, moving on to serve in Cincinnati.

Why might people think Caulk is also on the path to leave already? Well, in large part, it's about race.
In my decade in Maine, I've observed that people often express disbelief that anyone of color would want to live in Maine. I get it often from people myself. There seems to be an underlying feeling among many that people of color come here to take and not to give back. That we are either here to use public services that supposedly aren't as readily available elsewhere or that we use Maine as a stepping stool to bigger and better opportunities. Or that we simply got lost somehow and haven't realized yet we'd be happier somewhere that doesn't have snow.

When you get that kind of attitude from people, it doesn't encourage you to stick around. Also, there is always a danger for people of color in predominantly white spaces such as Maine, in that you are not exactly free to be yourself, and this is a stressor that drives some people of color away. In many cases, your actions are the actions by which your entire ethnic group will be judged and if you do misstep, the next person of your ethnic group that comes along may have to deal with your ghost.
No pressure, right?

From what I've read, Caulk seems to have been the best-qualified candidate and in the state's largest and most diverse school district, having someone of color at the helm is useful. It's not critical, mind you, but it does bring something special, as Caulk will theoretically bring not only his stellar track record but also a sensitivity to managing difference in a changing school district that, among other issues, has to deal with a large and growing number of immigrant students.

I'd rather that people focus on that potential rather than on whether he'll stick around. It would go a long way toward making him want to stay.

I mean, why does anyone move to Maine? It's a personal decision, and sometimes it's a decision that turns out to be short-term. This isn't just the whitest state but also has one of the most elderly populations. Maine's youngest and brightest often leave the state. So, we need to be thankful when well-educated and committed professionals are willing to settle down in this state, for however long.
Some of us, like me, come to appreciate the spirit of Maine. The spirit that still encourages perfect strangers to speak when passing each other on a street, or that compels us to shovel a neighbor out in the dead of winter.

Will Caulk embrace that spirit? Only time will tell. In the meantime, let's work toward making sure his skills serve our children well, and if he leaves for more prosperous opportunities down the road, let's remember that lots of people do that — white, black, or any shade in between.

New chief of schools: Will he be here long?

'Manny' Caulk has no Maine ties and his 'superstar' credentials are attractive to other districts, but he says he's committed to Portland's goals. 

By Tom Bell Staff Writer
Posted July 5, 2012 

PORTLAND — The Portland school board is winning praise for selecting a promising young administrator with big-city experience to serve as the new superintendent of schools. But Emmanuel “Manny” Caulk, 40, a top official in the Philadelphia school system, has no ties to Maine, raising questions about how long he will stay here.

Stability is a critical issue in Portland, which has had two superintendents since Mary Jo O’Connor resigned in 2007 amid a budget crisis. James Morse, Caulk’s predecessor, was superintendent for three years and brought stability to the school district.

Members of the search committee made it clear to Caulk that they need a commitment, said Ken Farber, who served on the committee as a parent representative.

“It’s clear he’s a superstar. He has excellent credentials,” Farber said. “With those credentials, how likely will he be here for that period of time? He voiced a commitment that (Portland) is where he would like to be. Hopefully, he will honor that commitment.”

The Portland Board of Public Education on Monday will formally ratify Caulk’s contract. Although it is a three-year contract, Caulk can leave at any time if he gives the school board six months’ notice.
In Philadelphia, the nation’s eighth-largest school district, Caulk had been deputy chief for instruction and leadership support before he was promoted in 2009 to be interim regional assistant superintendent.

Caulk was later named to the job permanently, overseeing a district that serves 16,500 students, more than twice Portland’s enrollment. Philadelphia’s total student enrollment is 156,000.

Before moving to Philadelphia, Caulk was assistant superintendent for instructional services at East Baton Rouge Parish schools in Louisiana. Earlier this year he applied to be superintendent of parish schools there, but withdrew.

He is taking a pay cut to move to Portland, where he will be paid a salary of $137,500. In Philadelphia, he made $155,000 last year. He is divorced and has one adult child.

When asked why he would want to come to Portland, Caulk said Portland is a “wonderful community” with a student population similar to that of his district in Philadelphia.

Unlike Philadelphia, where the school system is divided into several districts, Portland operates as a single system. That, Caulk said, allows school officials and stakeholders to better focus their efforts on school improvement without so many layers of bureaucracy to negotiate.

He said it will take time to achieve some of the school board’s goals, such as raising academic standards for students at all levels, and he is committed to staying here to meet those goals.
“This is not work that is done in two years or three years,” he said. “It is going to take some time.”

It takes five years for a superintendent to have a significant impact, according to the Broad Center for Management of School Systems, a Los Angeles-based training center for school superintendents. The average tenure for the superintendent of an urban school in 2010, however, was 3.6 years, according to a 2010 study by the Council of the Great City Schools, a group of urban school systems.
Melissa Bourque, a parent of twins who will be attending King Middle School, said it makes sense to hire a superintendent who has experience in an urban district.

“The fact is that Portland is the most urban school district in Maine, and becoming more so,” she said. “We need someone who understands that dynamic and how to make that work.”
Caulk is an excellent choice, she said, but only time will tell if he stays.

“Frankly, you have to pick who the best person is,” she said. “You can’t worry if they are going to leave tomorrow.”

Portland school board to vote on superintendent

Associated Press State Wire: Maine (ME) - July 2, 2012 

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — A top school official in Philadelphia has emerged as the No. 1 candidate for superintendent of schools in Portland, Maine.

School board votes are set for Monday and again July 9 on whether to hire Emmanuel Caulk, assistant superintendent of schools in Philadelphia. The July 9 vote will be followed by a reception in the State of Maine room at Portland City Hall.

Caulk was chosen from a field of 159 applicants from all over the country.

In Philadelphia during Caulk's leadership, schools showed gains in reading and math. He previously was assistant superintendent in East Baton Rouge Parish School System in Louisiana. He's expected to begin his Portland work Aug. 20.

Portland's previous superintendent, James Morse, has left the district for a new position in New Hampshire.

Philly educator set to take reins of Portland schools - Emmanuel Caulk, 40, impressed local officials with his ability to engage people and his desire to raise academic expectations.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (ME) (Published as Portland Press Herald (ME)) - June 30, 2012 

PORTLAND – A 40-year-old administrator from Philadelphia's school system has been chosen to be Portland's new superintendent.

Emmanuel Caulk, who grew up in public housing in Wilmington, Del., and now oversees a division of schools in the nation's eighth-largest school district, signed a three-year contract Friday to lead Maine's largest district.

The Portland Board of Public Education will vote July 9 to ratify the contract. Caulk would begin his new job Aug. 20, with an annual salary of $137,500.

Board Chairwoman Kate Snyder said she is impressed with Caulk's enthusiasm and his desire to raise the academic expectations of all students, from low achievers to the top students.

She said she likes the fact that Caulk relies heavily on research and data to determine what strategies are working.

Sarah Thompson, the school board member who chaired the superintendent search committee, said Caulk excels at engaging parents, teachers and other community members.

In an interview Friday, Caulk said neither poverty nor a child's environment should be seen as a barrier or an excuse for not learning.

He said he grew up in a household headed by a single mother and didn't try to get good grades until sixth grade, when his teacher Robert Glines made learning relevant and exciting to him.

He said “Mr. Glines" had high expectations for all of his students and made an effort to know the students' families. He often called parents at home to tell them how their sons and daughters were doing in school.

Caulk said the sixth-grade teacher changed his life.

"I believe teachers are in the life-saving business, and they don't know it," Caulk said.

Caulk has bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Delaware and a law degree from the Widener University School of Law in Delaware. He is completing his dissertation to earn his doctorate from Chicago-based National Louis University.

In Philadelphia, he is an assistant superintendent in charge of a division with 36 schools and 16,500 students, more than twice Portland's enrollment.

Of the 156,000 students in Philadelphia schools, 56 percent are African-American and 18 percent are of Hispanic origin. Portland has 7,000 students, 62 percent of whom are white.

The Philadelphia school district has a long history of financial troubles and student performance problems, although it has made strides since the state took over in 2001 and launched reforms.

According to a report prepared by the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, the school district raised its high school graduation rate 23 percentage points, from 39 percent in 1995 to 62 percent in 2005. The gain was the biggest for any major urban school district in the nation.

Schools in Caulk's division have shown improvement in reading and math, as measured by students' performance on the state assessment, according to the Portland school board.

Portland Mayor Michael Brennan said he had lunch with Caulk and was impressed.

"He's bringing a lot of energy to the position and certainly has the values we were looking for, and I look forward to working with him," he said.

The vote July 9 will be followed by a reception in the State of Maine Room at City Hall.

Caulk would replace Jim Morse, whose contract as superintendent ends today. After three years as Portland's superintendent, he is taking a job in New Hampshire. His salary in the last year was $131,500.

Philadelphia school administrator tapped as Portland's next superintendent

Bangor Daily News (ME) - June 29, 2012 

PORTLAND, Maine -- Emmanuel Caulk, an administrator with the Philadelphia public schools, has been chosen as the new superintendent of schools for Portland.

Caulk has accepted the job offer made by Portland's search committee and is prepared to begin work in Maine's largest school district Aug. 20. His appointment must be officially confirmed by the larger board of education at its July 9 meeting.

"From a field of 159 applicants from all over the country, we have selected an educational leader with a range of skills and experience that closely match our position profile and the work currently under way in Portland," Sarah Thompson, the school board member who chaired the search committee, said in a statement. "From curriculum planning to staff evaluations to high school reform, Mr. Caulk brings practical experience to areas of great need in Portland Public Schools."

While few details of Caulk's proposed contract were made immediately available Friday, board of education Chairwoman Kate Snyder said in a statement that district officials negotiated an "innovative" deal that "ties a 5 percent merit pay incentive in years two and three to successful implementation of districtwide strategies and systems to improve teaching, learning and student outcomes."

Caulk was one of two finalists for the position who agreed to meet with the public in Portland, holding a series of question-and-answer sessions during a visit to the city in late May. Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard, deputy superintendent in the Paterson, N.J., public schools, also met with the public in Portland.

If his employment deal is confirmed by the school board, he will replace outgoing Superintendent James Morse, whose last day with the district is officially Saturday. Deering High School Principal Ira Waltz had been lined up by the board to serve as an interim superintendent while awaiting the arrival of Caulk, and to help with the transition to a new top administrator.

Morse, who announced in October he would be stepping down after three years on the job, has accepted a job as the superintendent for the Durham, N.H.,-based Oyster River School District.

During outreach efforts by PROACT, the Illinois-based consulting firm hired by Portland to aid in its superintendent search, focus groups around Maine's largest city widely supported the pursuit of candidates with experience in diverse, urban school systems -- as opposed to administrators with small, rural districts seeking jumps to more populated systems.

In Caulk, those survey respondents and forum attendees will be satisfied. In his assistant superintendent capacity, Caulk currently oversees 36 Philadelphia schools and 16,500 students, more than twice the school population he will see in Portland.

During his visit to Portland in May, he told parents and teachers he would seek to establish community advisory groups associated with the local schools in the district as a way to seek fresh ideas and build community support for the system. He said he would hope to provide faculty members with professional development help as soon as they need it, and would track student success meticulously.

"Emmanuel Caulk brings skills and experience using data, best practice and resources to boost achievement for students at all levels of proficiency along the spectrum," said Snyder. "He is committed to all students performing at their fullest potential."

Caulk has also served as a top administrator in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System in Louisiana and in Chicago's public schools before moving to Philadelphia.

"In East Baton Rouge, he implemented high school redesign initiatives across the lowest performing high schools, implemented a tiered intervention model for school supports, increased the number of advanced placement and dual enrollment courses and implemented a dropout prevention and re-entry program for nontraditional students," stated a Friday announcement issued by the Portland Public Schools. "The changes resulted in a rise in student achievement."

Caulk earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Delaware, his juris doctoral degree from the Widener University School of Law, and is completing his dissertation to obtain a doctoral degree from National-Louis University, according to the district.

"I am very excited to be chosen as the new superintendent of the Portland public schools," said Caulk in a statement Friday. "The future of Portland is inextricably linked to the success of our public schools. Therefore, it is incumbent upon our schools to ensure that each and every student has the opportunity to develop his or her talents fully, and that our students are prepared with the skills necessary to excel in college and in their future careers in this global market.

"I believe in the limitless potential of young people, and I cannot wait to begin this critical work," he continued. "I look forward to working with parents, teachers, stakeholders and the greater Portland community as we work together to improve the life chances of Portland's children."

2nd Portland superintendent candidate says he'll bring democratic leadership style

Bangor Daily News (ME) - May 30, 2012 

PORTLAND, Maine -- Emmanuel Caulk told an audience of Portland teachers, parents and administrators Tuesday night he would bring a "democratic" style of leadership, consulting frequently with them in search of solutions to problems if chosen as the city's next superintendent of schools. Those who work in the schools, not a central office administrator, are more apt to have fresh ideas, he said.

Caulk, an assistant superintendent with the Philadelphia school system, on Tuesday became the second of three finalists for Portland's top school administrator position to meet with the public. Marguerite Vanden Wygaard, a deputy superintendent with the Paterson, N.J., school district answered questions at a public event two weeks ago.

The third finalist for the job, being vacated in June by James Morse after three years at the helm, has yet to schedule a meeting with the public or be publicly named by the district.

Caulk held three open discussions Tuesday in Portland, at East End Community School, Lyman Moore Middle School and Casco Bay High School.

In the final forum, held in the evening at the high school, Caulk described his background and his philosophies on education, then asked the teachers, parents and administrators in attendance to describe the opportunities and challenges they see in the district. Caulk took notes on their answers.

He told attendees, set up in a circle of chairs, that he would seek feedback, ideas and solutions to problems from them and others if hired for Portland's superintendent job.

Caulk said he has helped organize advisory groups for each of the Philadelphia schools he oversees, with the idea that parents and community members focused on each school community may be able to more quickly identify problems and provide fresh ideas than he can from the central office. He said he also would hold regular roundtables with teachers, parents and principals in Portland to harvest best practices and forge a team atmosphere surrounding education in the city.

"I believe in coaching and a democratic process as a leadership style," Caulk told attendees at Casco Bay High School. "My vision for the system is to create a world-class education in the schools, not just a world-class central office."

When asked about his impression of Portland's Reiche School, reportedly the first school in the nation to change its administration structure from being a principal-led school to a teacher-led school, Caulk responded, "All the schools I've been at have been teacher-led."

"I tell my teachers, 'I'm only as good as they are,'" he said.

Caulk said he has worked as an administrator in the Chicago and Baton Rouge, La., public schools and is writing his doctoral dissertation on how the deployment of academic and nonacademic resources best affect student achievement.

He talked about addressing "the opportunity gap" between different groups of students as well as gaps in academic proficiency, by embracing high aspirations and providing equal access to educational resources regardless of neighborhood or wealth. Caulk also advocated for creating a network of community partners -- from area nonprofits to businesses to faith-based organizations -- to help fill the district's needs when budget constraints become too tight.

"You have to be entrepreneurial," he said. "If [members of the community] don't know how they can help, and you don't know what your needs are, you can't fill those needs."

The superintendent search has been led by a three-person school board subcommittee chaired by Sarah Thompson.

Search consultants from the Illinois-based firm PROACT launched an aggressive campaign to seek comments from stakeholder groups throughout Portland on what qualities community members want in the district's next top administrator, distributing an online survey to accompany a series of targeted public forums and workshops.

After the outreach efforts, PROACT officials reported that Portlanders who weighed in sought an administrator from an urban district and experience with a culturally diverse student body speaking a wide range of languages. Approximately 60 different languages are reportedly spoken by students in Portland schools.

Out of the 159 people who applied for the post, PROACT planned to interview approximately 50, with 10 forwarded to the local search committee for an additional round of reviews before the pool was whittled down to the finalists.

The winning candidate will replace Morse, who is leaving Portland in mid-June to take the top administrator job at the Oyster River School District in Durham, N.H.

May 29, 2012 ... PORTLAND — Emmanuel Caulk, an assistant superintendent in the Philadelphia public school system, was introduced Tuesday as the second ...

Pitching in to help Center City schools - A new group is trying to raise money and save programs.

Philadelphia Inquirer, The (PA) - February 20, 2012 

Christine Carlson was tired of watching friends leave Philadelphia in search of a decent education for their children.

As mother of a boy and girl at Greenfield Elementary in Center City, she knew there were good schools here. She also knew they needed help.

Her solution: Create an organization for a dozen Center City schools to do what the School District struggles to do - raise money, save programs, improve curriculum, and fix facilities - and in doing so, anchor those parents to their neighborhoods.

Her fledgling Greater Center City Neighborhood School Coalition aims to unite 12 public elementaries serving an area bounded by Girard Avenue, Tasker Street, and the Delaware and Schuylkill.

"I don't think that parents should throw up a white flag and leave the area," she said. "I need to let parents know that there are solutions, and they shouldn't just give up."

She has enlisted some powerful allies.

They include: parents who have done similar work at their own schools; all 12 principals; Lori Shorr, Mayor Nutter's chief education officer; Paul Levy, head of the Center City District, which works to improve the quality of life downtown; and the district itself, which designated assistant superintendent Emmanuel Caulk to help.

The coalition is fighting huge headwinds. It operates in a financially struggling district that has had to lay off school nurses and safety officers. Most of the students are poor. Violence in schools regularly makes headlines.

But there are positive forces at work, too. In the area bounded by Girard, Tasker, and the two rivers, the number of children under 5 has grown 42 percent in the last decade, to 5,287.

Keeping some of those families here could improve property values and boost tax revenue for a cash-strapped city.

Many of the parents in those neighborhoods are highly motivated to help their local public schools. They believe in public education, love living in the city, and know that private school tuition could easily be $20,000 per child….

City school's parents: Return our policeman

Philadelphia Inquirer, The (PA) - September 12, 2011 

Upset at how budget cuts have affected their school, about 15 parents from A.S. Jenks Elementary marched into Philadelphia School District headquarters Friday morning.

They love their small, high-performing K-4 South Philadelphia school. But they worry about what they've lost this year - teachers, classroom aides, and especially their school police officer.…

Jenks principal Siouda Chestnut said she had taken steps to calm things - offering teachers extra pay to help with lunches, admissions, and dismissals, and asking parents to volunteer. On Friday, she, the school counselor, the counselor intern, and teachers all pitched in, she said.

"That's how we're handling it - asking for more help from the teachers and the community," she said.

Emmanuel Caulk, the assistant superintendent who oversees Jenks, agreed.

"In times of fiscal austerity," Caulk said, "you have to have a community come together."…

Philly School District's regional offices nixed; staff added

Philadelphia Daily News (PA) - July 29, 2010 

Superintendent Arlene Ackerman has gone back to the drawing board once again, announcing numerous changes to her administration and the elimination of the district's regional offices….

Penny Nixon, once principal of Wagner Middle School and assistant and regional superintendent, will be associate superintendent of schools.

Eight people promoted to assistant superintendents will report to Nixon:

* Overseeing elementary schools will be Elois Dupree, former principal of the Spring Garden School; Pat Mazzuca, former principal of Juniata Park Academy; Anna Jenkins, former principal of the Cook-Wissahickon School; and Emmanuel Caulk, former assistant regional superintendent for the South Region…

Ackerman shakes up top staffers - Veteran Tomas Hanna became her third chief of staff in 16 months. Others got new jobs, too.

Philadelphia Inquirer, The (PA) - October 8, 2009 

Philadelphia School District Superintendent Arlene Ackerman has shaken up her top leadership team again, bringing in her third chief of staff in 16 months and moving several others into new roles….

Former Assistant South Region Superintendent Ralph Burnley takes Frangipani's old job on an interim basis, and Emmanuel Caulk, who had been deputy chief for instruction and leadership support, will become interim regional assistant superintendent. Burnley's $123,600 salary will not change; neither will Caulk's $130,000 salary…

Even teachers get back-to-school jitters

Philadelphia Daily News (PA) - August 26, 2009 

Hundreds of new teachers who are taking on the challenge of instructing Philadelphia's students this year were asked a pointed question at the opening of the orientation yesterday.

"What kind of teacher will you be?" asked Elois Brooks, a consultant for the district's Empowerment Schools.

She posed that question to about 800 teachers who gathered at Edison High School, 151 Luzerne St., at the start of the two-day program for new teachers.

Among them was actor Tony Danza, who will start teaching at Northeast High School next month for a reality-TV show tentatively airing next spring on the cable channel A&E.

Brooks spoke on behalf of Superintendent Arlene Ackerman, who was absent because her father, the Rev. Bennie Randle, 85, died Sunday in St. Louis.

"You can do this, but I'm not going to tell you it's going to be easy," Brooks said.

Emmanuel Caulk, deputy chief for instruction and leadership support, said his office, which oversees the work of teachers, will be committed to helping them grow.

Coaches will be available to help teachers in their first year, he said…

Four finalists named for post of Christina superintendent

Newark Post (DE) - March 27, 2009 

The Christina School District Board of Education has chosen four finalists for the position of Superintendent of Schools.

According to the district, applications were received for the position by the search firm of Huge and Associates. The Christina Board of Education, working closely with the consulting firm, conducted preliminary screenings of the top candidates on March 18 and 19, and have now narrowed the list to four finalists.

The finalists are: - Emmanuel Caulk, Esq. , Assistant Superintendent for Instructional Services, East Baton Rouge, Louisiana…

Don't relax grading scale

Advocate, The (Baton Rouge, LA) - March 3, 2009 

The East Baton Rouge Parish School Board has voted to relax the system's traditional grading scale to make it easier for more students to qualify for TOPS college scholarships and other financial aid.

However well-meaning the motivation, the board is lowering the standard for academic achievement. That's sending the wrong message to those already concerned about student performance in the system's schools.

The local school system has some great schools where students are thriving, but it has others in such academic crisis that the state has moved to take them over. Those circumstances underscore the urgency of setting high standards for student performance.

Instead, the board recently approved a new grading scale that makes it easier for children to earn good grades. Is this any way to make students more competitive in today's global economy?

The new grading scale, which will take effect in the 2009-2010 school year, means students will need at least 90 out of 100 points to earn an A, and at least a score of 60 points to earn a D. Under a more traditional scale, East Baton Rouge Parish students now need at least a 94 to earn an A, and a 70 to earn a D.

Nearly all Louisiana colleges already use a 10-point grading scale. Most public high schools in the state use a traditional scale.

Emmanuel Caulk, assistant superintendent for high schools, compared the grading scales of eight of Louisiana's largest school districts. Of those, East Baton Rouge Parish had the toughest grading scale, but only Calcasieu and Rapides parishes had 10-point scales.

We believe having a more stringent grading scale than other parish school systems should be a source of pride, not regret.

One of the purposes of the state's TOPS scholarship program was to help motivate children to make better grades. Lowering the bar for TOPS doesn't inspire children to do their best.

We don't hold out high hopes that the School Board will reconsider this decision, but we wish it would.

School Board OKs 10-point scale

Advocate, The (Baton Rouge, LA) - February 20, 2009 

The East Baton Rouge Parish School Board approved a switch from a traditional grading scale to a 10-point scale that school officials say will give more students a chance at TOPS college scholarships and other financial aid.

The School Board, without discussion Thursday, voted unanimously for the change.

The new grading scale, which will take effect in the 2009-2010 school year, means students will need 90 out of 100 points to earn an A; to achieve a D, they would need at least a score of 60. Currently, East Baton Rouge Parish students need a 94 to earn an A, and a 70 to earn a D.

In an interview after the School Board vote, Emmanuel Caulk, assistant superintendent for high schools, said the TOPS scholarship, some private student loans and other financial aid for students are often tied to grades.

"We're looking at opportunities that are based on grades, and we can quickly reduce that our students are being disadvantaged by (the grading scale)," Caulk said.

About 159 seniors last year earned the minimum ACT composite score of 17 to qualify for the state's TOPS scholarships, but these students had grade-point averages just below the minimum 2.5 required by TOPS, he said.

Most of these students would instead qualify for a TOPS Tech award, accepted only at community and technical/vocational schools.

Nearly all Louisiana colleges already use a 10-point grading scale, while most public high schools in the state still use a traditional scale.

Caulk compared the grading scales of eight of Louisiana's largest school districts. Of those, East Baton Rouge had the toughest grading scale, but only Calcasieu and Rapides parishes had 10-point scales…

Grading scale in EBR gets attention

Advocate, The (Baton Rouge, LA) - February 19, 2009 

The East Baton Rouge Parish School Board tonight is expected to consider whether to switch from a traditional grading scale to a 10-point scale in hopes of giving more of its students a better shot at TOPS college scholarships.

Also on the agenda are proposals to change attendance zones at 13 schools to make way for the new Woodlawn Elementary School, and to renew for five years the district's pact with Aramark to handle support work.

The proposed change in grading scale would mean students would need 90 out of 100 points to earn an A; to achieve a D, they would need at least a score of 60. Currently, East Baton Rouge Parish students need to earn a 94 to earn an A, and a 70 to earn a D.

Emmanuel Caulk, assistant superintendent for high schools, highlighted the potential upside for some students at a Feb. 5 committee meeting. He noted that about 159 seniors last year earned the minimum ACT composite score of 17 to qualify for the state's TOPS scholarships. But these students had grade-point averages of 2.0 to 2.49, just shy of the minimum 2.5 required by TOPS, he said.

Later, Caulk acknowledged that most of these students would qualify only for a TOPS Tech award, accepted only at community and technical/vocational schools….

Panel backs grade change *** EBR schools look at 10-point scale

Advocate, The (Baton Rouge, LA) - February 6, 2009 

The East Baton Rouge Parish School Board is weighing whether to move from a traditional grading scale to a 10-point scale to give more of its students a better shot at TOPS college scholarships.

The board's Instructional/Pupil Services Committee recommended the move Thursday with little discussion. The full board will weigh in at its Feb. 19 meeting.

If approved, students would need 90 out of 100 points to earn an A; to achieve a D, they'd need at least a score of 60. Currently, East Baton Rouge Parish students need to earn a 94 to earn an A, and a 70 to earn a D.

Emmanuel Caulk, assistant superintendent for high schools, said about 159 seniors last year earned the minimum ACT score of 17 to qualify for state TOPS scholarships. But these students had grade-point averages of 2.0 to 2.49, just shy of the minimum 2.5 required by TOPS, he said.

"That's a loss of as much as $1.5 million in scholarships and missed opportunities," Caulk said, estimating the bill for four years at LSU at $10,000 per student and multiplying that figure by the 159 students.

Caulk also noted that nearly all Louisiana colleges already use a 10-point grading scale.

In an information packet for the committee, Caulk compared the grading scales of eight of Louisiana's largest school districts. Of those, East Baton Rouge had the toughest grading scale. But only Calcasieu and Rapides parishes had 10-point scales…

NHS has right person for the job

Newark Post (DE) - June 14, 2007 

To: the Editor From: Ann Kitchen, Newark In the spring of 2007, Newark High School lost its principal of three years, Emmanuel Caulk, because he accepted a position outside of our state. Since that time, Assistant Principal David Jezyk has stepped in as interim principal.

Mr. Jezyk has proven to be a wonderful principal, and I've never seen the school work together as well as it does now, due to increased communications between parents and principal. My observations have been reflected by every NHS parent that I've spoken with, as well as students and community members.

I've seen him with the students, and while he has high expectations, he treats kids with respect ---a respect that the students give in return.

Here's a man who is well respected by students, parents, teachers and community members. Because of this I was quite surprised that the district has chosen not to offer him the permanent position.

When I found out that the teachers had formed a petition supporting him, and that more than half had signed it, I decided it was time for the parents and students to voice their opinion. So I've been collecting their signatures as well. I've also recommended that they write their district representatives and school board members.

This job has proven to be easier than I expected. People have been eager to sign the petition, and along with me, are bewildered as to why the district would not offer him the position in the first place.

I just hope that the district will revisit this and take another look at a person who has devoted 17-plus years to kids in our district. We don't need to continue to spend money on a "nationwide search" when we have the right person for the job in our own backyard.

Caulk going to Chicago

Newark Post (DE) - March 1, 2007 

Christina District teacher was inspiration to overcome childhood in one of Wilmington's poorest neighborhoods


Emmanuel Caulk left Newark High School this week for a new position in Chicago. But he hopes that his initiatives during two-plus years in the "best principalship in Delaware" will continue. "Newark High has a great history, and alumni and faculty that has passed through the doors," Caulk said last week. "When I came here in 2004, I wanted to improve the school and leave it better than I received it. "

Caulk described his goal as transforming Newark to a place where students of diverse backgrounds can learn, grow and achieve academic success in the same learning environment. "Prior to my coming, data showed that 40 percent of entering freshmen were [not promoted] to the 10th grade," Caulk explained. "In 2005, 80 percent of the freshmen class matriculated to 10th grade. I feel that was a great return on the investment I and my staff made in our first year on the job."

Caulk and his assistant principals, Michael Epler, David Jezyk and Noreen Lasorsa, were all new to their positions in the 2004-05 school year. Lasorsa has since been given a principalship of her own at Christiana High School and Jezyk has been named the interim principal at Newark High on Caulk's departure. "I saw David and Noreen as my bookends," Caulk said. "Implementing ninth grade academies and putting more students in rigorous AP courses would not have been possible without their help."

Using a grant, the first-year administrators set up four teams of 125 freshmen, each with a common plan, content and strategies across the curriculum. "We were able to engage students in sports and other extracurricular activities, as well," Caulk said. "We identified a four-year plan for each student."

Caulk and his staff interviewed parents, students and teachers "early on" to collect data and feedback for their programs. "From the responses, we knew we were doing something that was pretty exciting," he said. "Students really seem to excel when we have more focus in small groups. The success of that first class has been extended and sustained into their junior year."

Caulk is also proud of improving the school climate at Newark. "We were the first school in the Christina District to establish the Positive Behavior Support program and achieve Star status," he said. "With the help of parents, we also revived the PTSA that had been in hiatus when I arrived."

During Caulk's time at Newark, the number of students taking Advanced Placement classes and exams also increased dramatically from eight AP courses with 187 students enrolled in 2003 to 25 courses with 605 students enrolled in 2005. "We were the first school in the District to open AP courses to all students that want to take them," Caulk said. "I like to think we helped in small part to give all students in the state of Delaware access to AP courses and a rigorous curriculum."

In May 2006, Newark High was named number 489 on Newsweek magazine's annual list of "Top 1,000 High Schools in America," because of its high number of students taking AP exams. "This year, we became the only school in the state to offer the Cambridge Program," Caulk added, "one of the most rigorous international programs in the world."

Caulk said about 25 students currently are enrolled in the Cambridge Program and the school already has three times that number interested in enrolling next year. "We've done a lot in a little over two years," Caulk said. "But are we there, yet? No, there's still a lot to be done and continue."

Caulk believes that Jezyk and the rest of the staff at Newark have "great internal strength" that will continue to drive reform there.

This week, Caulk began "a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" as a member of a small group of educators hired to transform 50 under-performing high schools in the Chicago Public School System where more than 107,000 students are enrolled in over 100 high schools. In April 2006, Mayor Richard M. Daley announced an investment of $21 million for Chicago Public Schools to implement a groundbreaking high school transformation plan with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

"I never would have left Newark for another principalship," Caulk said last week. "As a result of the publicity of from Newsweek, however, I was offered this opportunity and I believe I have to take it."

Caulk said the work to be done in Chicago "is very daunting" because of the high number of ethnic minority and low income students as well as the fact that historically only 47 percent of the entering freshmen make it through the four years of high school. "I think my professional career has made me particularly suited to do this job," Caulk said. "I'll be using the same skill sets I've developed here to impact thousands of students."

Caulk is also taking the personal motivation that led him from an underachieving sixth grader at Elbert Palmer Intermediate School to the principal's office at Newark High. "I grew up in Southbridge in a single-parent family," he explained. "I could have easily failed, but my sixth grade teacher wouldn't let me. I still carry my final report card from there everywhere I go."

Caulk produced the beloved document and pointed to words at the end. "Proud of you," it says, followed by the teacher's signature. "I never forgot that 'Proud of you,'" he said. "It inspired me to achieve everything that has happened since and brought me to where I am now."


Newark Post (DE) - October 19, 2006 

NHS PTA to host legislators

Newark High School PTA will present a two-part program at its meeting on Oct. 25. The principal, Emmanuel Caulk, will review the NHS Pathways to Excellence Plan (PEP).

State Representatives Pam Maier, Hazel Plant, Terry Schooley and Stephanie Ulbrich have been invited to update their involvement in state and local education issues, followed by a question and answer period. Questions may be submitted in advance at . The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the school…

Cambridge program challenges NHS students

Newark Post (DE) - October 6, 2006 

Newark High School has become the first school in Delaware to implement the Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) program. According to Michele Millar, Cambridge coordinator for NHS, the school is starting the program with approximately 22 students.

The CIE program at Newark consists of a Cambridge English course taught by Cassandra Sachar, a Cambridge mathematics course taught by Tammy Garber, a Cambridge history course taught by Carol Ralph and a Cambridge science course taught by John Woodruff. These courses are part of the IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education) Program administered by CIE…

At Newark's Open House in September, Millar and principal Emmanuel Caulk met with parents of the Cambridge students. "The feedback we received concerning the program was all positive," Millar said. "Parents are very happy about the school making efforts to meet the needs of those students at higher levels. They feel that finally their children are being challenged."


American Press (Lake Charles, LA) - November 5, 2005 

Religious message bothers some parents 

NEWARK, Del. — The principal of a Delaware high school has apologized after some parents and students objected to a Christian - themed assembly featuring two members of the Philadelphia Eagles. The players, Tra Thomas and Thomas Tapeh, say their presentation at Newark High School last week simply encouraged students to “be a leader, not a follower. Don’t worry about what everybody else is doing. ” Thomas is founder and spokesman for Athletes United for Christ, and a projection of the organization’s logo was shown throughout the presentation. The athletes also urged students to attend a rally and concert at the Living Faith Christian Center in Pennsauken, N. J. “As a parent of a child in a public school, I am uncomfortable with the fact that an evangelical organization can come into a public assembly that is a promotional event for an evangelical Christian concert,” Becky Ashley said. Principal Emmanuel Caulk told parents in his letter that the organizers provided no information before the event that any religion would be mentioned.

School apologizes for Tra Thomas assembly

Bucks County Courier Times (Levittown, PA) - October 28, 2005 

NEWARK, Del. (AP) - The principal of a public high school apologized to parents for allowing a Christian-themed assembly that featured two pro football players, saying he was misled about what the presentation would cover.

Newark High School Principal Emmanuel Caulk wrote in a letter that he expected the talk by Philadelphia Eagles players Tra Thomas and Thomas Tapeh to focus on "values, choices and challenges that adolescents face in today's society." He said promotional material used the name "Tra Thomas Promotional Tour," and that he did not know Thomas was founder and spokesman for Athletes United for Christ.

A projection of that organization's logo was shown throughout Tuesday's assembly, and the athletes urged students to attend an upcoming rally and concert at a Philadelphia-area Christian center.

When some students and parents complained, Thomas said he assumed everyone knew his promotional tour was connected to his organization, but that he has heard similar complaints after speaking at other public schools.

"What we're trying to do is to help the kids make better decisions in life. I guess I understand," why some people objected, he said, "because you have other religions there. But we're not preaching to the kids."

Promoter Angela Brown said she had made it clear what Thomas would be talking about and the organization with which he was affiliated. Caulk disputed that.

Drewry Fennell, executive director of the Delaware chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said such miscommunications reflects a nationwide trend.

"Organizations like this one across the country are gaining access to schools through the famous people and entertainment value and then using those opportunities to proselytize," she said.

Thomas said he's just trying to help. "I'm just trying to get them to identify with me, the person, rather than just Tra Thomas, the football player, so we can relate to each other better," he said. "And my Christianity is a big part of what I am."


US Fed News (USA) - August 24, 2004  Author/Byline: Bill Ghent, 202/224-8395; Meredith Rosenthal, 302/573-6457,

WASHINGTON, Aug. 24 -- The office of Sen. Thomas Carper, D-Del., issued the following press release: Sen. Tom Carper will pay a visit to Glasgow High School on Wednesday, August 25, 2004.

The Christina School District recently was awarded a $1.1 million grant to implement the Smaller Learning Communities Program (SLC) in the District's three high schools.

The Senator will speak with administrators and faculty, including the superintendent of Christina School District and the principles of the three high schools in the District, about the new program. The purpose of the Smaller Learning Communities Program is to promote academic achievement through small, safe and successful learning environments in large public high schools.

The Christina School District is undergoing district-wide high school reform in an effort to raise student achievement. The Smaller Learning Communities Program will be implemented as part of the District's Transformation Plan. The Christina School District is Delaware's largest public school district with about 19,000 students.

Here's how the SLC program will work: Building on a pilot 9th grade academy experience at Christiana High School, 9th grade academies will be implemented at the three high schools in 2004. After four years, all students will be in SLC settings. In addition, significant academic enhancement for all students and accelerated strategies for those performing below grade level on state assessments, and professional development for teachers, will be part of this program. Wednesday, August 25, 2004

WHO: Senator Tom Carper Joseph Wise, Superintendent, Christina District Emmanuel Caulk, Principal, Newark High School..

Emmanuel Caulk changed principles to become principal

Sunday News (Lancaster, PA) - June 6, 2004 

The Emmanuel Caulk who has three college degrees and is working on a fourth remembers the Emmanuel Caulk who was more interested in being the baddest guy in the school rather than studying.

And he wants to thank his sixth-grade teacher, Robert Glines, whom he credits with turning his life around.

Caulk, 32, principal at Eshleman Elementary School in Millersville in the Penn Manor School District, finished his first year at the school Friday.

Remembering his sixth-grade teacher, Caulk said, "We battled from the first marking period to the third."

With his peers, Caulk was still holding up his image as a bad guy, but quietly on his own, he began to study.

Glines provided structure and discipline.

"He was white. I'm black. It didn't matter. He was firm and fair," said Caulk.

No one knew it, but Caulk had his sights on the fourth-quarter honor roll.

He walked past the list of honor roll students every day as he entered Drew Pyle Elementary School in Wilmington, Del.

"I was tired of being perceived as a problem," he said.

To make the honor roll, a student could have no more than two C's.

On his fourth-quarter report card, Caulk had three.

Caulk was disappointed, but the note Glines wrote on his report card made all the difference. His teacher wrote something like, "This means more to me than all the degrees on my wall. You didn't make the honor roll this time, but you will."

And he did, from then on.

Glines doesn't know he was a role model that made an important difference in Caulk's life. But Caulk plans to visit him in Wilmington this summer to tell him.

Caulk, known as "Manny," is irrepressibly good-natured. He laughs easily. To what does he attribute such a sunny outlook?

"Growing up in public housing, seeing an older guy in the neighborhood killed [when I was] 11, once you survive that, everything else is easy.

"Being poor and never having enough, everything is almost anticlimactic. ... This is not life and death. I've experienced that."

Caulk, a former prosecutor, is also proud of his school of 326 children, grades kindergarten through sixth. Not only do the students have a new principal, but the school is "new" too after a year of renovation during the 2002-03 school year.

In about an hour and a half while in his office, pupils stopped by four times to give him treats.

After a 9-year-girl left, he said, "You can put away 10 bad guys and not have that kind of interaction."

Address: Hempfield Township.

Family: Wife, Monnica, and son, Emon, 13.

Education: Bachelor's and master's degree in education from the University of Delaware; a juris doctorate from Widener University School of Law, Wilmington, Del.; and working on a doctorate in education at the University of Delaware.

Professional background: Taught for five years at New Castle County Detention Center; worked as assistant principal at Newark Charter School, which he co-founded; practiced law for a year at a law firm in New Jersey that represented school districts; and served as a prosecutor in Salem County, N.J., before moving to Pennsylvania.

Birthplace: Wilmington, Del.

My first job: Delivered newspapers. After high school, before I went into college, I worked as a school custodian.

My parents always told me: Put God first. Always do your best. They modeled that, as well, in the home.

The best thing about my job: Interaction with students.

The toughest part of my job: This time of year when the kids leave for the summer.

A person I admire: Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

If I could change one thing: There's nothing I'd do differently. I'm proud of my life.

One cause I support wholeheartedly: Cancer research. My mother lost the battle to cancer. Not once did she say, why me? ... She was courageous, a beautiful spirit.

What I'd like to get around to doing one of these days: Traveling. We didn't have discretionary income [when I grew up], so I traveled through books. I'd like to go see these places I've read so much about.

The music I like best: Jazz.

A book I highly recommend: "Brennan Vs. Rehnquist: Battle for the Constitution."

My favorite television programs: "Law & Order" and "Sports Center."

My hobbies include: Chess; working on my golf swing; running; collecting Matchbox NASCAR cars.

My favorite foods: Lasagna.

My idea of a good time: Outside of coming to work?

My idea of exercise: Running, light weight-bearing exercises.

My favorite quote: Education is a social process. Education is growth. Education is not a preparation for life; education is life itself. - John Dewey

When I really want to relax, I: Read.

The car I drive: A 2001 Ford Taurus.

The car I would like to drive: A 1969 Camaro Supersport.

A gadget I couldn't live without: My iPAQ Pocket PC.

Words that describe me: I thought I was a stern disciplinarian. But in the school yearbook, my students used these words (they spell out his name): M, married; R, really serious about academics; C, caring; A, awesome; U, unique; L, listens to students; and K, kind.

People may be surprised to know that I: Like to read about ancient civilizations.

I f I could have dinner with anyone in the world, living or dead, it would be: Martin Luther King Jr. and Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

Eshleman school to reopen on 1st day - - Renovations and a new principal will greet Penn Manor students - BACK TO SCHOOL

Lancaster New Era (PA) (Published as LANCASTER NEW ERA (LANCASTER, PA.)) - August 21, 2003 

It's official

After nearly $6 million in renovations, plus a few setbacks, Eshleman Elementary School will open in time for the start of school on Monday, Penn Manor officials said today.

A new principal at Eshleman, to go along with the new surroundings, are just some of the changes in store for Penn Manor students this year.

Last year, the elementary school on Leaman Avenue in Millersville was closed to students while it was renovated and expanded, including the addition of an all-purpose room and kitchen, new library, office and health rooms, two new classrooms, several small group instruction areas.

In all, 12,000 square feet were added to the school.

Also, the school received new playground equipment and a bigger parking lot.

Eshleman Elementary also was equipped with a new geothermal heating and cooling system.

While the construction was taking place, students were divided between Manor and Marticville middle schools and Central Manor Elementary.

All along, the construction project was slated to end before the start of the 2003-2004 school year, but several sinkholes and soft areas in the ground delayed construction.

The weather during last winter and this spring was not that helpful to the project either, said officials.

"It's done, it's beautiful and the kindergartners and first graders are visiting the school today for a tour," said district spokesperson Cindy Rhoades.

Emmanuel Caulk Jr. was named principal at Eshleman, replacing Randall Fox, who took a position elsewhere.

Caulk has worked as a special education teacher, a dean of students and charter school coordinator. Then he went to law school, became an attorney and served as an assistant prosecutor in Salem County, N.J., before returning to the world of education.

"Manny has a really unique perspective and we think he's going to be a very popular principal," Rhoades said.

"My outlook for the year," said Caulk, "is to continue building the partnership with the community. I also want to refine our instructional program, continue to look at district goals, and improve our reading program."

Caulk was quick to add the district is already doing an "excellent" job with reading.

"But we want to continue in that direction," he said. "If you come into the new school, you can see our focus is going to be on raising student achievement.

Caulk said he enjoyed his career as a prosecutor but felt his "passion" was in education.

"I feel this is where I can do the most good," said Caulk.

Penn Manor is restructuring its middle school program at Marticville and Manor middle schools so that students will have a smoother transition to the high's school's block scheduling.

The number of classes each day will be reduced for middle school students, and teachers will have more flexibility to have longer or shorter classes on the days they need it, according to Superintendent Don Stewart.

The only other major change at the district this year, said officials, will be in the ninth grade math program. Most freshmen will now take an entire year of math rather than a single semester, said Rhoades.

The expanded math program will apply to all students except those in an accelerated math program, she said.

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