PORTLAND — Preparing students to “participate and succeed in a diverse and ever-changing world” is the new vision statement guiding the work of the Portland Public Schools.
That’s according to the district’s revamped comprehensive strategic plan, which will be introduced at a public event scheduled for Oct. 5 at Unum on outer Congress Street.
Xavier Botana, the superintendent of schools, said the goal of the updated comprehensive plan is to guide the district in doing “what we need to do to achieve at the highest levels.”
Botana, speaking to a group of school leaders and staff at Ocean Avenue Elementary School last week, said the new plan is intended to tell the community at large “who we are and what we intend to do.”
Prior to publicly revealing the plan, Botana and other district leaders visited each school to introduce the four main areas of focus and to present the school district’s new logo and motto:
“Portland Public Schools – prepared and empowered.”
Under the new plan, the schools’ mission is to be “responsible for ensuring a challenging, relevant and joyful education that empowers every learner to make a difference in the world.”
As part of the plan, the School Department is also highlighting a new set of core values, which include high expectations, creativity and innovation, and individuality, among others.
Entitled, “Portland Schools Promise,” the comprehensive plan has specific goals for the next five years. Under those goals, the district hopes 92 percent of students will graduate and be college- or career-ready.
In addition, the hope is that at least 95 percent of students will feel valued and connected to a caring adult at school; 95 percent of staff will feel satisfied and engaged, and there will be a 50 percent reduction in academic achievement gaps.
The four main areas of focus for the new plan are achievement, the whole student, equity and people, Botana said.
Among the achievement goals are increasing the percentage of students entering kindergarten who are school-ready; making sure students are reading at grade level by third grade, and, by the end of their freshman year, students are on track to graduate.
In terms of the whole student, schools are being asked to help students “develop the skills, habits and mindsets they need to engage in and contribute to our diverse city and ever-changing world.”
Under the equity focus, the idea is for the district to do what it can to support students individually and to also “eliminate any factors that could contribute to variable rates of success,” according to Botana.
For the focus on people, he said, the new comprehensive plan calls for the school district to attract, support and retain “talented and diverse people.”
In familiarizing members of the school department with the plan, Botana said it’s important for the public to be part of the process because 80 percent of the city’s residents don’t have kids in school.
“That’s why it’s so very important to show the value we bring to the overall community,” he said.
To that end, the School Department will send out postcards to all residents introducing them to the new comprehensive plan. There will also be posters on Metro buses, flags on light poles along Congress Street, and the launch of a new website.
The new logo for the Portland Public Schools.