Portland School Committee candidates

District 2 race, with two uncontested seats
By PORTLAND PHOENIX STAFF  |  October 28, 2009

While the District 1 and at-large races are uncontested (with a newcomer in the former and a one-term incumbent in the latter), we offer here those candidates’ answers, as well as those of the two candidates vying for the District 2 seat being vacated by Robert O’Brien.

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Portland City Council
Where do I vote?
Portland Water District
Referendum explainer

1) Do you believe the superintendent’s abilities and performance regarding managing the school budget should be discussed in public or in private?
2) Do you believe the School Committee should enter into executive sessions frequently, occasionally, or rarely (and under what circumstances would you vote in favor)?
3) To avoid future budget overruns, what one area would you look at cutting first: teacher numbers, administrator numbers, district-wide pay and benefits, extracurricular activities, or something else (in which case, please specify that one area)?
4) If you have a child in the Portland schools, how does your child usually get to school in the morning?
5) How long does that take, door-to-door, home to school?

District 1
Jenna Vendil
25, field director for The League of Young Voters

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I have an extensive background of civic engagement in Portland. After I graduated from Bates College with degrees in Political Science and American Cultural Studies in 2006, I moved to Portland where I became rooted in local issues through organizations like Maine People’s Alliance and The League of Young Voters. My passion for affordable housing led me to work for Preble Street’s Lighthouse Shelter for homeless youth and my interest in economic justice led me to become involved with the Southern Maine Workers Center. In 2007, I became an organizer for Opportunity Maine’s “Jobs through Education” Initiative and in 2008, I took over as Field Director for The League of Young Voters, where I focused my work to empower young people to become leaders on social and environmental issues. For my extensive commitment to civic engagement, I was a recipient of University of New England’s Perdita Huston Purple Starfish Award.

My background working in the community and the passion I have towards education became the motivating factors to run for School Committee. I understand education’s potential to transform our children’s lives because I experienced that transformation firsthand. As a product of a single-parent household, where I faced homelessness several times growing up, I found that public education was my pathway out of poverty. I took college-level classes at Brown University while still in high school and earned scholarships to move onto higher education. Without compassionate teachers and mentors from elementary school to high school, I wouldn’t have had those opportunities. Expanding educational opportunities is an issue of particular concern for my district, where close to 70 percent of students at East End Community School qualify for Free and Reduced Lunch. We need to ensure greater educational equity so everyone has the same opportunity to succeed so that we can have a productive, safe, community.

1) Standards and goals are public; evaluation is private
From my understanding, the standards that the School Committee uses to evaluate the superintendent and their goals for the district are public. However the evaluation of the superintendent is considered a personnel item and is kept confidential.

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