School Funding

Portland School Board approves funds for college protest response

The Portland School Board voted unanimously Tuesday to use $13,000 to pay staff hired to support Lincoln Middle School for the final month of the 2021-22 school year due to ensuing staff departures. two demonstrations at the college.

The money will come from the school board’s contingency budget, which had $86,000 at the start of fiscal year 2022 and will have about $52,000 after the withdrawal.

Students angry at what they say is a lack of action by the school administration in the face of bullying over issues of equity and race demonstrate outside Lyman Moore Middle School in Portland on May 12 2022. Gregory Rec / Personal Photographer

In mid-May, Lincoln and Lyman Moore middle schoolers protested what they said was a culture of tolerance among teachers and school staff for racism, bullying and discrimination among students in schools. schools. Following the protests, several Lincoln staffers left their posts and were later furloughed by the district, including acting Lincoln principal Robyn Bailey and two front office secretaries. Leaf terms are unknown. The school district did not respond to a request for details about Bailey’s furlough.

The school board-approved $13,000 will cover the costs of recruiting a former teacher, a principal, and two staff members associated with Maine Seeds of Peace, a nonprofit organization that works with children to promote peaceful conflict resolution strategies. It also includes funds to finance stipends for staff who supported year-end activities.

Tuesday’s school board meeting was the first for three new school board members elected earlier this month. Sarah Lentz, Benjamin Grant and Sarah Brydon were sworn in and joined the nine-person council, which had been understaffed for months.

Lentz, 40, is a member of the board of directors. She is a nonprofit manager and has one child in the school district. Grant, 44, is an attorney with two children in the district. He also took an at-large seat. Sarah Brydon, 43, represents District 5, is a compliance analyst, and has two children in the school district.

The school board also held a workshop on how to use federal COVID-19 relief funding. Since the pandemic began, the district has received approximately $42 million from the federal government through COVID relief funds, including the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act Act and the American Rescue Plan Act. The district had already allocated about half the money in May — about $23 million — and is deciding what to do with the rest.

Some ideas discussed included funding additional positions for mental health support, community engagement and outdoor learning.

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