Sarah Lentz was unanimously elected to lead the Portland Board of Education in the coming year after Chairwoman Emily Figdor said Monday she is declining a nomination to remain in the role.

Sarah Lentz Photo courtesy of Portland Public Schools

The board elected new leadership Monday evening at its inauguration ceremony. District 1 representative Abusana “Micky” Bondo was unanimously elected vice chair.

The board informally voted during a Nov. 15 caucus to support Figdor, who represents District 2 and served as chair for the past two years. Members chose at-large member Lentz to serve as vice chair.

Both Figdor and Lentz said at the time they would accept the nominations, but Figdor cited “mixed feelings” because she had expected current Vice Chair Adam Burk would become chair. He lost his reelection bid on Nov. 8 and Figdor said she would accept the nomination to help the board move forward.

“I told my colleagues I’d be willing to do it, but the more the reality sunk in, the more I realized that it’s just too demanding to sustain for a third year on top of my full-time job and parenting my two girls,” Figdor said in a written statement.

At Monday’s inauguration, Figdor told the board that she has confidence in Lentz and Bondo, describing them as a “powerhouse team.”


“From her first days on the school board, Sarah rolled up her sleeves and dove right into the work,” Figdor said. “Sarah and Micky will be a great leadership team for the district, and I’m so excited and optimistic for them to take on these new roles.”

Emily Figdor Photo courtesy of Portland Public Schools

Figdor will hand over leadership as the school district has been working to resolve payroll-related issues that have created financial problems for some employees.

Some staff have not been paid on time or the correct amount in recent weeks. Ed techs went about six weeks without getting raises and back pay owed under their new contract, and other employees also reported incorrect or late paychecks.

Figdor said Saturday in an email to the Press Herald that ed techs were paid correctly with back pay as of Friday, but the district continues to work toward broader fixes in its payroll department.

Lentz was first elected this past June to fill an unexpired term for an at-large seat and then was reelected Nov. 8 to a new three-year term. Lentz, a Portland schools parent, brings with her over 15 years of nonprofit leadership experience, as well as a lifelong dedication to social justice and racial equity.

“As a parent and community member, I have seen the incredible strengths of our district in action, and I could not be more proud to accept this nomination to lead with Micky Bondo to support our district moving forward,” Lentz said in a statement.


Lentz currently serves on the board’s Policy and Curriculum Committee, Appointments Committee, Public Affairs Committee and the Superintendent Search Committee. The board is in the process of seeking a new superintendent to replace Xavier Botana, who will step down at the end of this school year.

Abusana “Micky” Bondo Photo courtesy of Portland Public Schools

Bondo is serving her second term as the District 1 representative on the board. She was first elected in 2018 as the first Congolese American elected to public office in Maine. In addition to her background in biochemistry, Bondo is a past Portland schools parent and currently leads a local nonprofit, In Her Presence, which focuses on helping immigrant women succeed in Maine.

Bondo is also a member of the Superintendent Search Committee.

Newly elected board member Julianne Opperman, who will fill the District 3 seat, and at-large member Ben Grant were sworn into office at Monday’s inauguration ceremony.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey contributed to this story

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