Outdoor Learning Coordinator Position

Portland, Maine

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Policy Type Legend
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Equity Policy

Climate Education Policy

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Grant Fund

Community Process

Outdoor Recreation

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Outdoor Recreation

In 2020, in an effort to connect district students with the outdoors in a time of unprecedented need, the Portland Public School (PPS) District took a novel approach.  PPS funded outdoor classrooms, materials, and designated outdoor learning staff, including shifting STEM Coordinator Brooke Teller’s role to the district’s Outdoor Learning Coordinator, as well as several Outdoor Learning Liaisons, using federal coronavirus relief funds available to all schools.  This network-based approach in 2020 proved to be successful, and the Portland school board reaffirmed their dedication to the Outdoor Learning Coordinator role by making it permanent.


The Outdoor Learning Coordinator position came about due to broad community support; parents, teachers, school board members, and community advocates who recommended outdoor learning for in-person learning in 2020 to mitigate COVID-19 risks.  Due to the vocal advocacy of many stakeholders, the budget passed the school board vote.  While the Outdoor Learning Coordinator began out of a need due to COVID, this permanent position ensures that outdoor learning is a key part of the district’s long-term vision.


The Outdoor Learning Coordinator’s salary and benefits are funded through the local budget for the 2021-22 school year as a new position.  To support outdoor learning, the Outdoor Learning Coordinator is also charged with engaging 18 stipended Outdoor Learning Liaisons at each school.   These liaisons work to coordinate material distribution, manage outdoor classrooms, and serve as a conduit for two-way communication between the Outdoor Learning Coordinator and teachers at all 18 schools in the district.  Stipends for the Outdoor Learning Liaisons of $1,500 are funded separately by the Foundation for Portland Public Schools through private donations and grants.


The overall theme of the FY22 budget is “Advancing Equity;” addressing achievement and opportunity gaps for students, and it contains a wide range of different measures to improve educational equity in the district.  Funding for the Outdoor Learning Coordinator position centers equity in that it builds access to outdoor learning and its positive outcomes for every student in Portland Public Schools.


The PPS 2021-22 budget, which includes the permanent Outdoor Learning Coordinator position, has already been approved by the Portland School Board by a margin of more than 3 to 1 and is awaiting a city-wide vote.  The total FY21 budget of $125.2 million is an increase of $5.3 million over the FY20 budget and the overall mill rate in the city is expected to rise by 16 cents to $23.39/$1000 as a result.  This increase is mostly offset by an overall decrease of 4% in the municipal budget. The Outdoor Learning Coordinator position accounts for approximately 1 cent of the mill rate increase.

Policy Details

Year Created

2021

Most Recent Yearly Funding

$110,000

Total Program 

Funding

$110,000 total funding, $93,000 from local school budget, $27,000 in stipends from Foundation for Portland Public Schools

Continuing or One-time Funding

Continuing

Funding Source

Local Budget and the Foundation for Portland Public Schools

Path to Enactment

Portland Public Schools

Bill Number

None