Changes throughout Portland schools this year

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PORTLAND — Teachers and students the Portland Public Schools are saying goodbye to summer and preparing for the first week of school.

For grades 1-12, school starts Sept. 6. Kindergarten students begin Sept. 8.

This year, some schools in the district are seeing substantial changes.

Reiche Elementary School in the West End will be the first school in the district to officially become a teacher-led school. Instead of having a principal, the school will be run by two teacher-leaders who will take turns completing administrative tasks.

Special education instructor Christine Keegan and kindergarten teacher Kevin Brewster were chosen for the roles by a panel of parents and school staff who considered five applicants. They will work part time as teachers and part time as administrators.

The school will also have teams of teacher and parent groups who meet regularly to make decisions on anything from instructional programming to teacher evaluations.

All the schools will have five more days of school this year than they did last year, thanks to a new contract between the teachers’ union and the district.

Ocean Avenue Elementary School will open with significantly higher enrollment than last year. The new building replaced the Nathan Clifford School last year and a number of students who had been attending other schools in the district are moving back to their own district.

Ocean Avenue already has more than 400 children registered. Last year it had 289. Superintendent of Schools James C. Morse Sr. said the school was built in anticipation of enrollment around 400, but that if it reached 500, there could be space problems.

Portland High School and Riverton Elementary School have new principals beginning this fall.

Deborah Migneault, from Dover, N.H., is the new Portland High School principal, taking over for Michael Johnson, who has been reassigned as principal at Portland Arts and Technology High School.

Jeanne Malia from Los Angeles is stepping into the Riverton principal role, taking over for Nancy Kopack, who left the district.

Stephen Rogers, the former assistant principal at Portland high, will take over as interim principal at Lyman Moore Middle School while the district conducts a nationwide search for a permanent principal.

Parents, coaches and athletic directors in the city’s two largest high schools will begin working on bylaws for the consolidated sports booster programs that will begin in the spring. The program would create two school-wide booster programs instead of the individual sports boosters that currently exist.

Riverton Elementary School has a significant number of new staff in addition to its new principal, thanks to a “turn-around” plan implemented as part of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Nearly half the school’s staff have been replaced in the past two years in an effort to increase test scores and change the culture at the school, which has been labeled a Continuous Improvement Priority School since 2008.

School lunch prices are going up 10 cents this year. For pre-kindergarten through grade 5, lunch is $2.35, breakfast is $1.25, and milk is 50 cents.

For grades 6-12, lunch is $2.50, breakfast is $1.25, and milk is 75 cents.

Adults will pay $4 per meal.

East End Community and Riverton Elementary schools have increased the number of slots available for preschool students.

For the first time, families will be eligible for HeadStart programs even if they don’t meet the income guidelines the program previously required.

Riverton will take 36 preschool students, twice the number it had last year, and East End will enroll 18 preschool students. The East End program will be held at 215 Congress St. instead of in the East End Community School building.

Children who live in the schools’ neighborhoods will get preference in the lottery for the available spots. Deadline for applying is Sept. 1.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or eparkhurst@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @emilyparkhurst.

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