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Cumberland-North Yarmouth school official to be curriculum chief in Portland

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Cumberland-North Yarmouth school official to be curriculum chief in Portland

PORTLAND —  A Portland resident has been tapped from a national pool of applicants to create a unified curriculum for the city's public schools.

The School Committee will meet in closed session on Wednesday night, June 9, to negotiate a contract for David Galin.

Galin, who is now the curriculum director in School Administrative District 51, was selected by a seven-member committee, including union leaders and administrators, to become Portland's first chief academic officer.

"Everyone greets me the same way," Galin quipped. "They say, 'Congratulations. I hope you know what you're getting yourself into.'"

School Committee member Sarah Thompson, who also chairs the personnel and curriculum subcommittees, said she believes Galin, who served on Portland's school facilities task force, is the "perfect fit" for Portland.

"I found him to be innovative and definitely the perfect fit for us," said Thompson, who served on the interview committee. "It was a nice pool of very strong candidates from all over the country and (Galin) definitely came out on top."

Should Galin agree upon a contract, MSAD 51 Superintendent Bob Hasson said the district will review the job description of Galin's current post, which he hopes to fill in the next month or two.

"The position has to be open first," Hasson said. "(Galin) is an outstanding educational leader. He did a great job with curriculum assessment and professional development. He's going to be very much missed."

Thompson said Galin, who has lived in Portland for about 15 years and has children in the public schools, seems to be a person who will work collaboratively with Superintendent James C. Morse Sr., while also challenging the school chief.

"One thing we have learned is that we don't want a lot of 'yessirs,'" Thompson said. "We all need to be challenged and I think it will be good for (Morse) and invigorate him."

One of Morse's main objectives since taking over the reigns of the school district last year has been to move away from the traditional model of site-based management of schools, where building managers have rule-making latitude, to a more systematic, district-wide approach.

Thompson said Galin will have "strong challenges," having to work against years of tradition. But she said she is confident he is up to the task, given his track record in the Cumberland-North Yarmouth district.

"In many ways, they are ahead of us. They have a solid, uniform curriculum and much of that is because of (Galin's) leadership," she said. "Right now, we're all over the place. We have pockets of greatness."

Galin is confident he can make the transition from a relatively small school district with 2,170 students to the state's largest, most diverse district with about 7,000 students, about 25 percent of whom are English Language Learners.

"The numbers are important, but the tasks are the same," 51-year-old said. "It's getting people around a table and getting that shared vision and setting goals."

Galin holds a bachelor's degree from Colgate University and a master's degree in science and instructional leadership from the University of Southern Maine, as well as a USM certificate in educational leadership. He has been the director of curriculum for SAD 51 since 2004, after five years as the teaching and learning coordinator for Falmouth schools.

For three years prior to that, Galin was a sixth-grade teacher at Falmouth Middle School, after a two-year stint as a fifth- and sixth-grade teacher at Bowdoinham Community School. He also taught fourth grade at the Robert T. Coffin Elementary School in Brunswick from 1990-1994.

"It feels like the culmination of a long professional development stretch for me," Galin said of the new post.

The Portland schools are also looking to fill two other new administrative positions: a chief financial officer and a chief operations officer.

Morse has said the administrative reorganization will be at worst budget neutral and could save the district $97,000, since several other positions, including two assistant superintendents and the special education director, have been eliminated.

Galin currently makes nearly $94,760 a year at MSAD 51.

Thompson said the district has collected applications for the two jobs and hopes to interview candidates and make appointments by the start of next school year.

Randy Billings can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or rbillings@theforecaster.net