PORTLAND – Superintendent Jim Morse is in the final weeks of hiring new top administrators and holding team-building sessions to help the city’s public schools function as a coordinated system.

The first member of Morse’s new central office team, Chief Academic Officer David Galin, started working last week. He was curriculum director of School Administrative District 51 in Cumberland and North Yarmouth for the past six years.

Morse also hired one of two curriculum coordinators who will work under Galin. Mary Capobianco, who was coordinator of assessment and professional development in Biddeford schools, will be Portland’s curriculum coordinator for language arts and humanities.

Morse plans to hire a chief finance officer, a chief operations officer and a curriculum coordinator for math and science within the next two weeks.

Morse also plans to hold a series of administrative retreats Aug. 2-5 at the Baxter School for the Deaf on Mackworth Island in Falmouth. All principals, assistant principals and directors of Portland’s 17 schools and various educational programs will be included.

“The focus will be on system-thinking and team-building,” Morse said. “The goal will be to create an environment that supports interdependence rather than independence.”

For years, Morse said, Portland schools have functioned as individual tribes, competing for resources and striving to differentiate themselves rather than recognizing and building on each other’s successes.

“We need to break down those barriers so we can work together for the benefit of the whole without losing what makes each school special,” Morse said.

The Baxter School offered its facilities for free, and the cost of food and facilitators will be covered by federal economic recovery funds, Morse said.

Galin will be Morse’s point person when it comes to developing system-wide curriculum and assessment practices. The School Committee recently established a curriculum subcommittee because the district has had little to no curriculum coordination for two decades.

As a result, Portland’s 10 elementary schools use a variety of math and reading programs, and there is little curriculum continuity as students move on through the city’s three middle schools and three high schools.

“We can’t continue to have students who’ve had several different math and reading programs,” Galin said. “That means when they move between schools, some have to study information all over again and some have to catch up to what other students have learned already. It’s a waste of time for students and teachers.”

Galin, who lives in Portland and has a child at Hall Elementary School, was a member of a facilities task force that recently reviewed the condition of Portland school buildings. He also participated in a two-day summit last December to develop a community vision for Portland schools.

Galin said developing curriculum that clearly defines the district’s mission will help promote equity among Portland schools, which was a concern raised at the summit.

“The question we need to ask ourselves is, ‘What do we want to guarantee for each of our students?’ ” Galin said.

Morse’s reorganization is modeled after administrative structures in other school districts, including Boston. He said it won’t increase administrative costs and could save money.

He created the new central office jobs after eliminating several existing positions, including an assistant superintendent and a director of educational planning.

The School Committee has yet to vote on Capobianco’s salary.

Capobianco has a bachelor’s degree in English, a master’s degree in English education and certificates of advanced study in reading and educational administration from the State University of New York in Albany.

She was a middle school teacher and an assistant principal in Bethlehem, N.Y., from 1985-2002; a learning standards coordinator of English language arts for a regional cooperative of public school districts in New York from 2002 to 2005; and an assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction in Troy, N.Y., from 2005 to 2008.

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

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