SOUTH PORTLAND — The South Portland City Council filled two vacant school board seats by appointing district representatives from the list of candidates who applied for the seats. 

On Tuesday, April 26 the council unanimously voted Courtney Pladsen to the District 2 seat, replacing Mike Faulkingham, and Molly Schen replaces Andrea Levinsky in the District 4 seat. During the meeting the City Clerk Emily Scully introduced the candidates and gave an explanation of the process and candidates made opening statements. 

The other applicants for the District 2 seat included Rosemary Mahoney, Jeff McDonald and Sayali Robles. The other applicants for the District 4 seat were Karen Callaghan and Nancy Smith.

Councilors and Mayor Deqa Dhalac urged all the applicants to run again in November.  

Pladsen is a mom, a family nurse practitioner at Greater Portland Health, clinical director at the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, and an internal consultant with Maine Medical Center. She has a doctorate of nursing practice from Georgetown University. Pladsen told the council during the meeting that she experienced poverty throughout her childhood and experienced homelessness as a teenager. 

“Education was my way out of poverty,” she said. “I went on to be a first-generation college student and went on to get my doctorate.”  


She stated that she wants every child in her district to have the opportunity to reach their highest educational potential. Pladsen plans to run again this fall. 

Schen is a longtime educator, school reformer and nonprofit administrator. She taught at Portland High School and Freeport High School. She taught English and was a school district administrator. In 2016, Schen graduated from the Georgetown University Leadership Coaching program and is a certified 360 Leadership Circle Practitioner. 

“What I am bringing is the strong ability to listen and to hear people’s concerns,” said Schen. “I understand well that serving as an interim I will really be quite patient and contribute as best as I could for the half-year or so. Critical challenges I see coming out of the pandemic, for sure staffing, and I really have been amazed at the shift in demographic in South Portland since I lived here years ago; that happily the community is much more diverse. But I do worry about the cost of housing and I am hearing so much about the problem with homelessness. It does seem to me that this is an opportunity for the school board to work closely with the city to try to figure out some innovative solutions that would serve kids and parents.”  

Both Pladsen and Schen stated to the council that South Portland schools are facing staffing shortages, lack of housing, and homelessness, as well as morale for both students and teachers. 

At the March 15 city council meeting, the council was informed of the vacancies of two school board seats (District 2 and District 4). Faulkingham resigned at the beginning of March. Faulkingham was the District 2 representative and said previously that the time commitment of a new job and family matters limited his ability to serve on the board. District 4 board member, Levinsky, resigned from her position during the second week in March due to moving to another area. 

Pladsen and Schen will serve on the board until the November election. District 2 was set to expire in November and the District 4 seat, which would be up at the 2024 election, will be voted on in the November election. 

The council has another seat vacant after Katie Bruzgo resigned effective on April 15. On April 5 the council decided to leave the seat vacant until Bruzgo’s term expires on Dec. 5. The seat will be on the November ballot. 

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