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Board Votes to Approve Xavier Botana as Portland Superintendent

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Board Votes to Approve Xavier Botana as Portland Superintendent
Posted on 05/24/2016
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At its meeting on Tuesday, May 24, the Portland Board of Public Education voted to approve Xavier Botana as the next superintendent of the Portland Public Schools. The board voted to hire Mr. Botana for a 3-year term.

Mr. Botana will start his new position as superintendent of Maine’s largest and most diverse school system on July 1. His annual salary will be $148,000.

“We’re very excited to welcome Mr. Botana as our new superintendent of schools,” said School Board Chair Marnie Morrione. “He exceeds all the characteristics that families, district employees, the school board, and the Portland community have said they want in a superintendent. Based on his experience, credentials, and the transformative work he has accomplished in a district similar to our own, we believe he will be able to effectively lead our school system to even greater success.”

“I am honored to have been selected for this post,” Botana said. “During the interview process, I learned a great deal about the work that is taking place in Portland Public Schools. I look forward to joining the district in July and engaging with the community on the critical mission of preparing our next generation.”

Mr. Botana, 53, has served as Associate Superintendent of the Michigan City Area Schools in Indiana since 2010, and was one of two finalists for the superintendent position, for which 41 people initially applied. The board hired BWP & Associates, a national consulting firm, to help with the superintendent search. The firm conducted a community survey and held meetings with staff, parents, community members and the school board; compiled a report of its findings and characteristics desired for Portland’s new superintendent; and also assisted in narrowing down the number of applicants to six semi-finalists and then the two finalists.

On May 2, Mr. Botana visited the Portland Public Schools for an extensive “Day in the District” that included school tours; interviews with district administrators, community partners, higher education leaders, union leaders, municipal leaders, and high school students; and meeting the community at a public forum.

At the public forum, Mr. Botana cited his family’s experience immigrating to the United States from Cuba as motivation for his work in education. Growing up bilingual in Spanish, he began his educational career as an ESL teacher and worked his way up to leadership roles centered on instructional strategy, curriculum alignment, and professional development. Mr. Botana was attracted to Portland for the opportunity to “make a difference and change the lives of thousands of children,” and sees the community as a welcoming place to make a permanent home with his family.

Members of the School Board’s Superintendent Search Committee, Marnie Morrione and Jenna Vendil, conducted an extensive site visit to the Michigan City Area Schools. They interviewed board members, principals, union leaders, parents, and community partners, who shared examples of Mr. Botana’s work as an innovative school leader. They learned about how Mr. Botana navigated budget development, curriculum alignment, and parent engagement. They came away greatly impressed with his accomplishments.

Mr. Botana was a critical part in transforming a school district that grappled with a significant budget deficit and declining enrollment to an innovative district that offers unique educational options to meet all student needs.

Examples that make the diverse, 6,000-student Michigan City Area Schools district stand out are its two state-of-the-art elementary magnet schools in STEM (science, engineering, technology and math) and in visual and performing arts; its theme-based middle schools in STEM and Environmental Science; and its high school with diverse program offerings including strong honors, AP, and early college programs, and credit recovery programs for at-risk students. The district also has an adult education program and a regional career and technical school that has recently expanded its programs and has nearly doubled its enrollment in the past five years.

Mr. Botana has held a variety of educational roles prior to his current position. He has been Chief Academic Officer for the Portland, Oregon Public schools; Chief Officer of Instructional Design and Assessment for the Chicago Public Schools; Division Administrator for the Illinois State Board of Education; Assistant Director for the Bensenville New American School Project in Bensenville, Ill.; Assistant Principal/Department Chair at Morton High School, Cicero, Ill.; Coordinator of the Illinois Alliance of Essential Schools, Chicago; and a Bilingual/ESL Teacher for the Cicero Public Schools and the Palatine Public Schools in Illinois. Mr. Botana holds a Master’s degree in Educational Administration and has completed some doctoral program coursework.

Marnie Morrione thanked Portland Interim Superintendent Jeanne Crocker, who was hired last summer to lead the district for one year while the board conducted the superintendent search, and praised her leadership skills. “Jeanne has successfully kept the Portland Public Schools on a solid trajectory of success this school year,” Morrione said. “Having the district in such a positive place will make the transition to the new superintendent that much easier and will allow him to continue that forward momentum.”