PORTLAND – Emmanuel “Manny” Caulk has been Portland’s superintendent for only a week, but he already has made changes that school officials say will have an impact for years to come.

Caulk has created two high-level administrative jobs, both of which won unanimous approval from the school board Tuesday night.

The deputy chief for shared accountability will be paid $102,500 a year and be responsible for gathering and analyzing data that could be used in applications for grants that benefit school programs.

Money for that position will be allocated from two jobs that are being eliminated, Caulk said: the humanities curriculum coordinator and the science, technology, engineering and math curriculum coordinator.

The new coordinator of parent and community engagement, who will be paid $82,500 a year, will serve as a liaison between the community and the school district. Funding for that position will come from a three-year Nellie Mae Education Foundation grant.

The coordinator will be a liaison for parents, businesses and faith-based organizations, and work to make the school system more transparent by communicating its plans and needs to the community.

School board members said both positions, which will be advertised this week, have been needed for some time.

“There is a lot of frustration out there, especially when people can’t get their questions answered,” said Kate Snyder, the school board’s chairwoman. “We need to get better at communicating outwardly with the community.”

Caulk, 40, who started his job Aug. 20, came to Portland from Philadelphia, where he was an assistant superintendent in charge of 36 of the 249 schools in the nation’s eighth-largest school system.

Though school board members showed wholehearted support for the administrative changes, one parent disagreed.

Mark Usinger, whose son is a student at Deering High School, said, “Out there in the real world, everyone is cutting back. The people I talk to are telling me the school department is overloaded at the top. This is not a wealthy community. We can’t afford more high-priced, top management people.”

Also Tuesday, the school board unanimously recommended that the City Council authorize the purchase of a former seafood processing plant that would become the school district’s central kitchen.

Peter Eglinton, the district’s chief operating officer, would not disclose the sale price for Portland Shellfish Co. at 92 Waldron Way, but said it would be no more than the $2.2 million the owner sought in 2010.

Funding for the purchase was authorized by the City Council in 2010, but the purchase still needs ratification from the council when it meets Sept. 5.

In April, the Food and Drug Administration shut down Portland Shellfish for “numerous violations” of federal laws and health regulations, including listeria — a bacteria that can cause serious infections.

Eglinton said the district got an extensive environmental assessment of the property and is confident that it will be a safe place to prepare food.

 

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

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