I’m writing in response to an Aug. 3 Portland Press Herald article about a shift in enrollment away from Deering High School. High school enrollment numbers fluctuate annually because we allow students to choose which high school to attend, but notably fewer ninth-graders have chosen Deering this fall.

Portland’s public high schools offer a learning experience second to none in Maine. Our students are fortunate to attend diverse schools that prepare them for living and leading in an increasingly diverse society. Research shows that students who attend diverse schools are more empathetic, creative and engaged in civic life. Colleges recognize that, as evidenced by the more than $3 million in scholarships and grants awarded to the Class of 2019 and their acceptance at some of our nation’s top colleges and universities. We fully expect similar or greater success from subsequent graduating classes.

Deering, specifically, provides an outstanding education to almost 1,000 students year after year. Deering serves the most diverse high school student body in New England north of Boston. The school has been recognized for expanding Advanced Placement opportunities for all students. It leads our region in the number of students taking dual-enrollment classes while in high school, and its students excel in arts and athletics. This reality does not come through in the Press Herald article.

The Portland Board of Public Education has asked me this year to lead a discussion about our high school selection process, striving to understand the reasons students select schools and how to avoid another large single-year swing.

We are working to understand and address the root causes of the Deering enrollment shift. I am personally committed to working with Deering leadership, staff, students and the community to support and maintain the Deering High School that I described above as one of Portland’s three exceptional public high schools.

Xavier Botana

superintendent, Portland Public Schools

Portland


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