PORTLAND – The city’s public schools will hire at least four more teachers to address enrollment fluctuations and program needs in the coming school year.

The School Committee unanimously approved the $170,000 hiring plan on Wednesday night. The committee passed an $89.9 million budget in the spring that eliminated 45 positions.

The district is on track to have about 7,000 students again this year — about 150 more than predicted by the New England School Development Council. The estimated total includes about 100 children from immigrant families who are being enrolled through the district’s multilingual program.

The new teaching positions will be funded from other areas of the school budget, including $100,000 that the committee set aside for possible last-minute hires, said Sarah Thompson, the committee’s personnel chairwoman.

“We built the budget knowing that there could be changes in staffing needs when school started,” Thompson said. “We’re maximizing our staffing, our programs and our financial resources.”

The new positions are:

A fifth-grade teacher at Riverton Community School, where three incoming fifth-grade classes would have had 25 students each. Adding a fourth teacher will reduce class sizes to 18 or 19 students each. Cost: $45,000.

A fourth kindergarten teacher at Longfellow Elementary School, where three incoming kindergarten classes would have had 21 or 22 students each. Adding a teacher will reduce the classes to about 16 students each. Cost: $45,000.

A half-time Latin teacher at Portland High School, so the school can expand its Latin program to include students from Deering High. The sharing is possible because the city’s three high schools have integrated their schedules. Cost: $35,000.

A social studies teacher at Portland High to replace Suzette Olafsen, who has taken a position representing the teachers union in the superintendent’s office. Cost: $45,000.

In addition, one of five kindergarten teachers at Lyseth Elementary School will be transferred to Presumpscot Elementary School, where a third kindergarten teacher is needed this year, Morse said.

To accommodate a fourth kindergarten class at Longfellow, the school will convert its computer lab to a classroom. Laptops will be put on carts, allowing the lab to be rolled from classroom to classroom, Morse said.

The integrated high school schedules also will allow Deering and Casco Bay high schools to share a French teacher.

Morse said the district could pay for some of the new positions with money from the education jobs bill that Congress passed last week. But it’s unclear how much money Portland might receive and how it could be used, he said.

Kathleen Casasa, president of Portland’s teachers union, said she hopes the district will use the federal money to rehire teachers who were laid off in June. In addition to filling the new positions, Casasa said, the district should reinstate several necessary teaching jobs in special education, physical education and technology instruction.

The district has about 560 teachers and almost 1,200 employees overall.

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

[email protected]


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