Portland’s Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday to hire Ryan Scallon as the city’s next superintendent of schools.

The vote, which took place at a hybrid meeting, came at the start of the meeting, with Scallon drawing praise from those members in attendance.

Ryan Scallon Contributed photo

Scallon is an assistant superintendent in Philadelphia and was chosen from 47 candidates for the job. He will earn $200,000 in his first year, a salary that can be increased annually by the board. He is scheduled to start a four-year contract on July 1 that will end June 30, 2027.

Chairwoman Sarah Lentz called Scallon a good fit for Portland’s diverse school district. Lentz described the 42-year-old as “committed to equity, a deep listener and humble.” She said Scallon has three school-aged children.

“It is such a fitting combination for our district,” Lentz said.

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


“I am truly humbled and honored to be provided this opportunity,” said Scallon, who joined Tuesday’s meeting virtually.

Scallon said his three children, who are middle and elementary school age, will attend Portland schools. Scallon’s wife, Amy, is also in the education field and runs a pre-service residency program for teachers.

“My toughest critics will be seated around the dinner table,” he quipped. “I look forward to the weeks ahead, rolling up my sleeves and getting to work.”

Lentz said Scallon will visit Portland in late June. He is scheduled to attend a staff retreat and meet with community members.

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 told the Press Herald last week that 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.

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 told the Press Herald. “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.

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