One of two finalists to be superintendent of Portland’s schools made her case for why she should be hired, speaking before an audience of more than 40 people who came to the King Middle School Tuesday night.

Teresa A. Lance is now a School Leadership Officer – the equivalent of an assistant superintendent – for Harrison School District Two in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Lance, who was hired in March 2013, said she oversees the operations of the district’s middle and high schools in a much larger school district than Portland. The district serves over 11,000 students in 25 schools and has an operating budget of $113 million.

Lance fielded some of the same questions posed to her competitor for the job, Xavier Botana, faced during a Monday night forum at Casco Bay High School. Several audience members expressed concerns at both forums about the turnover Portland has seen in the superintendent post. Over the last decade, city schools have been led by five superintendents, including two interims.

The city’s last permanent superintendent, Emmanuel Caulk, got married last year and left Maine to become the superintendent for the Fayette County Public Schools in Kentucky. Caulk served in Portland from 2012 until June 2015.

“I’m going to be here as long as you want me to be here. It’s very much a reciprocal relationship,” Lance said of how she would approach the superintendent job after being asked if the Portland post would be a stepping stone to better job.


Lance went on to say that she would like to remain in Portland until she retires and would like to mentor other women interested in becoming school superintendents.

In her current position, Lance supervises and evaluates secondary school principals and assists the superintendent with establishing educational goals for students in grades six through 12. Her career in education has placed her in a diverse set of jobs.

She was a school principal in Houston and Baltimore, and in a consulting role helped turn around an underperforming school in Naperville, Illinois. Lance holds a Master of Science degree in Education/Health Education.

It was pointed out to Lance by several audience members that a significant number of Portland students are the children of immigrants – more than 60 languages are spoken in city schools. Lance said she was aware of the cultural differences and pledged to work hard at making sure that all students can access any program.

“We need all of our courses to mirror the demographics of our district,” she said.

Lance also said she would strive to develop a good working relationship with school unions.


“I’m hoping it’s very much a love relationship,” Lance said “We may have different agendas, but at the end of the day, it’s all about moving student achievement forward.”

Lance said she is not afraid to delegate responsibilities, and told the audience that if she is hired, she won’t be a stranger to teachers.

“I’m very visible. I’m in the schools on a daily basis,” she said.

In addition to the public forums, the finalists this week also will visit three schools at the elementary, middle and high school levels. Each candidate will be interviewed by the School Board, top administrators, stakeholders, and a group of high school students before leaving the state.

A national search attracted 41 applicants. The School Board interviewed six semifinalists before selecting Lance and Botana as the two finalists. Botana is currently the assistant superintendent in the Michigan City, Indiana, school system.

The School Board intends to announce its final decision by mid-May. The new superintendent will start July 1, but their starting salary has not been set.

Caulk was paid $137,500 a year when he left the district in June.


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