• Robert Lathers

Portland Superintendent Will Heath Pleased with First Day of School

"Today was an exciting day for all of us”, Superintendent Will Heath shared with the Beacon this afternoon. “Kudos to all of our staff for today. Our drivers, support staff, teachers, cleaners, food staff, administrators, and School Board all operated as one today to successfully bring students back into the district for the first day of school. The day went as planned, we have a few adjustments, and we will be ready for our 1, 4, 7, and 10th grade students tomorrow”.

“Having kids back in the district establishes a sense of normalcy that I think all of us have been seeking and quite honestly warms all of our hearts. We have truly missed our students and to see the smiles, through the masks, was refreshing. This week is a soft start with limited attendance.”

The Portland Public School Board met last night and listened to a summary from Superintendent Will Heath about the extensive preparation for over 1700 district students who will return to in-person classroom education this week. While parents have been given the option for their children to attend in-person classes, or to attend virtually, only 429 district students will begin the school year virtually. Board President, Linda Hoxie-Green commended school staff and administration at the Board meeting last night, “Our people have put forth so much effort to get ready for tomorrow!”

So far, the School District has spent over $300,000 to address Covid-19 and anticipate spending another $450,000 to address Covid-19 precautions before the end of the school year. The district has also provided Chromebooks to all students who have requested them, whether they chose the virtual option or to attend in-person.

The school system is also near completing extensive renovations, funded by a voter supported bond approval last year, in all district buildings. The High School, Middle School, Westwood, and Oakwood elementary buildings have all been updated. New carpeting, flooring, lighting, and more open spaces have been installed throughout the district.

Heath reported that school staff worked very hard to prepare for the first day and to have a successful school year in spite of lots of unknowns. “Our biggest hurdles will be next week when all grades report. We will handle that with the same diligence that we handle this week. I want to thank all of our parents for trusting us to educate their children safely.”

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