A new superintendent for Portland Public Schools has been chosen.

Ryan Scallon has been chosen to become Portland next superintendent of schools. Contributed photo

The school board is expected to vote Tuesday to hire Ryan Scallon to take over as the city’s education chief, the school district announced Friday.

Scallon, currently an assistant superintendent in Philadelphia, will succeed Xavier Botana, who resigned in December amid a breakdown in the district’s payroll system. Botana was hired in 2016.

Scallon, 42, was chosen from 47 candidates and was one of two finalists along with Eric Moore, a senior adviser to the superintendent of Minneapolis Public Schools.

He will earn a salary of $200,000 and is scheduled to start a four-year contract on July 1.

“I’m really excited to join the community and be intentional about taking time throughout my tenure there, but especially in this transition, to learn about the schools, the district and how we can move forward together,” Scallon said in an interview Friday night.


School board Chair Sarah Lentz said she is excited to welcome Scallon and his family to the district.

“He brings with him deep experience recruiting and retaining racially diverse staff and implementing equitable policies,” Lentz said in a statement from Portland Public Schools. “We believe his leadership will continue to unify our district and move it forward.”

Scallon grew up in Madison, Wisconsin, and moved east to go to the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in economics with a concentration in management from the Wharton School.

He also has a master’s in education in school administration from the University of Pennsylvania and a doctorate in education from Temple University in Philadelphia.

After graduating with his business degree, Scallon was a middle school math teacher while earning his teaching credentials at night. He taught middle and high school math in Philadelphia and then Milwaukee, and worked as a principal and assistant principal in New York City.

He spent three years leading a struggling expeditionary learning high school in the South Bronx that, like Portland Public Schools, had a high number of multilingual students. Working with the students, families, and staff, Scallon implemented a bilingual program, new academic expectations and aligned supports for teachers.


He then went on to serve in leadership roles in a number of schools and central offices in Boston and Philadelphia.

Scallon said he is impressed by the supports Portland has built for multilingual and refugee students and he is interested in learning more about that work and how the district can strengthen partnerships with the city and community organizations.

He said he was attracted to Portland because of the Portland Promise, the district’s strategic plan centered around a key goal of equity.

“I’ve spent my career working with historically underserved students and in Philadelphia, when we went through equity work, we looked at the Portland Promise,” Scallon said. “It really aligns with my personal beliefs and values.”

Scallon’s wife, Amy, is also in the education field and runs a pre-service residency program for teachers. They have three children who are middle and elementary school age.

Amy Scallon attended Colby College, so Scallon said they are familiar with Maine and have made many visits to Portland. When he visited Portland schools for his interview, Scallon said he was struck by the warmth and positivity he felt from students and the community.


“One thing that’s really attractive about Portland is that with 6,500 students, it’s big and you have a full range of programs for students, but it still feels small enough that you can wrap your arms around it,” he said. “That ability to go from a 130,000-kid district to 6,500 where you can be a leader in the community and a member of the community, that feels great.”

Botana resigned in December 2022 amid an ongoing payroll crisis that resulted in hundreds of district employees not being paid accurately or on time.

An audit released in February found that understaffing, a lack of internal controls and software issues led to the problems, and also noted steps the district was taking to correct them, including plans to enter into an agreement to outsource payroll.

Scallon said he is familiar with the payroll issue but will need to learn more when he arrives in Portland so he can know if anything else needs to be done to address it.

“I know from my interview and conversations with the board that there is some operational work that will need to happen,” he said. “I’m a pretty firm believer that we can’t have academic excellence if we don’t have operational excellence. So we will need to make sure the payroll situation is fully resolved.”

Neither Melea Nalli nor Aaron Townsend, the district’s assistant superintendents who have been serving as interim co-superintendents since Botana’s departure, applied for the permanent job. Nalli has announced she will be leaving the district at the end of this month, while Townsend will be serving as deputy superintendent under Scallon.

“The past months have been a time of transition for the district, but I believe Dr. Scallon’s skills and expertise will put us on a steady course so that we can continue to make progress toward realizing our Portland Promise goals,” Townsend said in the district’s statement Friday.

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