Over the past year, Portland Public Schools have had a tumultuous history. When board members refused to hold a vote for a bond measure, students across PPS walked out in protest. To make matters worse, bad weather conditions caused school to be cancelled for 11 days, shortening and at times cancelling finals and forcing the school year to be extended. And just last week, superintendent Carole Smith – PPS superintendent – was asked to step down by board members.
However, in the face of turmoil, PPS has recently hired some new blood to replace Carole Smith. Dr. Donyall Dickey has recently been named as the Superintendent of PPS. According to a PPS press release, Dr. Dickey “has an extensive record of success in urban school districts, from classroom instruction to district-wide leadership, turning around underperforming schools and helping students achieve high academic standards.” Hailing from Atlanta, Dickey’s background is far different than what can be expected to be seen in the Portland Public School’s Environment. However, Lincoln’s Principal Peyton Chapman seems not to be worried about subtle differences.
“Atlanta and PPS are roughly the same size as PPS has nearly 90 schools and 43,000 students. PPS is a diverse school district with several high schools with 70% or more of their students receiving free and reduced meals. We also have several high schools with more than 50% of the student population defined as “historically underserved,” Chapman shares.
Although most teachers are hopeful about Dickey’s future with PPS, Lincoln’s David Bailey has some reservations. Other than the fact that Dickey has little classroom experience, Bailey is worried that Dickey “seems to have bounced from job to job” leading him “to wonder how long he will stay in Portland before another offer comes forward.”
How long will he stay? Time will only tell. But until then, the schools seems to have made a popular decision as it looks to draw a close to a tumultuous year that has thrown the district nothing but surprises.