The iconic poster in which Uncle Sam urges service to our country by pointing a finger and saying, “I want YOU,” is familiar to most Americans. In this column, I want to borrow Uncle Sam’s words and say “The Portland schools want YOU – as substitutes, volunteers and regular employees including educational technicians, teachers and bus drivers.”

As you know, we’re experiencing vacancies due to the labor shortages across Maine and the country that make fully staffing all school districts, including ours, a challenge this year. We’re doing many things to address this problem.

We are asking our community to help too – by applying for jobs, volunteering and spreading the word about the opportunities at Portland Public Schools. Do you have friends or family who would like to move to Maine? A well-paying job with great benefits at PPS could enable them to do that.

Xavier Botana is superintendent of the Portland Public Schools. He can be reached at

One area of employment need is for education technicians. Nov. 16 is Education Support Professionals Day, a time to honor essential employees such as ed techs, who play a vital role in our students’ success. We are very grateful to our ed techs and are doing all we can to attract and retain more of them.

The Board of Public Education recently approved a new contract with our ed techs that increased pay, making us more competitive with neighboring districts. The contract includes annual wage and step pay increases over three years; first 5.4%, then 4.4% in the second and third years. The total increase over the life of the contract is nearly 15%.

The Maine Department of Education is moving forward with a program that will pay education  technicians in specialized programs such as our district Breathe, Bridge, and Beach programs an additional $2,500 if they participate in a five-week course. We hope to leverage this for recruitment and retention of ed techs in these programs.


We also held our second hiring fair on Nov. 4, focusing on ed techs and substitute teachers. Both that fair and another we held in early October yielded some badly needed candidates. We will continue holding monthly hiring fairs that focus on areas of employment need. The fairs are an opportunity for candidates to apply and interview in person. We are open to job shares for individuals who can only work part time.

Substitute Educators Day is Nov. 18. We are always thankful for these employees and especially so this year. We need more subs. To attract these critical staff, we have increased substitute wages on an interim basis for this school year. The daily pay rate for our long-term substitutes is $238; dedicated substitutes will get $175; state-certified substitutes will be paid $150; and bachelor’s-degree substitutes will receive $145. Substitutes with lesser credentials will see an increase in their pay to $95 per day.

As another hiring incentive, we are temporarily offering any of our staff who refer a candidate for an educational technician or teacher vacancy  $1,000 if we hire that person and they complete the school year with us.

We also need more bus drivers, food service staff and custodians, so that will be our next area of hiring focus. For substitute or permanent jobs of all types, go to our Human Resources employment page on our website,, to learn more and apply.

Our schools also need caring volunteers. Can you help out? Learn more on our Volunteer page.

Whether you can be a substitute or a volunteer – or can apply for one of the permanent positions – we need YOU to support public education in Portland.

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