Changes to Public School Approval Form

ADMINISTRATIVE LETTER: 1
POLICY CODE: CM

The Maine Department of Education has made a number of changes to the Public School Approval Form (EF-I-291) to simplify filing, including pre-population of fields and requiring that the form only be filed once every three years.

The form is due August 10, 2012.

These changes were initiated as a result of concerns raised in 2010 at several forums by superintendents and subsequent recommendations made by the Superintendents’ Red Tape Group to the Commissioner.  The Commissioner appointed a superintendents working group that included Michael Cormier, Maine School Superintendents Association (MSSA) President; Paul Stearns, MSSA President Elect; Roger Shaw, MSSA Past President; and Suzanne Godin, MSSA Secretary, to identify ways to improve the school approval process and to streamline and simplify the Public School Approval Form (EF-I-291).  Greg Scott, Department of Education Legislative Liaison and Edwin N. Kastuck, Ph.D., Department School Approval Services convened the working group and facilitated the review/streamlining process.

The recommendations of the working group have been incorporated in the new Public School Approval Form (EF-I-291).  You will notice that the school specific questions have been placed in seven categories.   In most cases, principals will be providing the responses to the questions. There is an additional section with questions that pertain to school administrative unit wide conditions and practices. This section should be answered by the superintendent and/or designee. A new feature of the EF-I-291 is that you can save the data that you have filled in and return at a later time to complete the form without losing the data. The form will time out after 20 minutes; however, you will be prompted to save your data after ten minutes of inactivity. Therefore, if you plan to be away from your computer, it is recommended that you click the “save to come back later” button on the bottom of the page. An auto save feature is being explored for future iterations.

School administrative units (SAUs) are required to submit and digitally sign the EF-I-291 by the deadline of 5 p.m. on Friday, August 10, 2012.  Those failing to do so are subject to provisional approval in accordance with section 14.03 of Chapter 125, including the withholding of state subsidy.  A list of provisionally approved public schools will be listed on the Department website and distributed to Department of Education staff who have responsibility for General Purpose Aid (GPA), MaineCare, IDEA, NCLB, ARRA, School Nutrition and other state and Federal programs.

The following is the link to the revised EF-I-291: https://www.medms.maine.gov/MEDMS/MEDMS_Welcome.aspx

Please complete the EF-I-291 (Public School Approval Form) for 2012-2013 that is located inside the MEDMS application.

As noted, the EF-I-291 has been separated into two sections this year.  The first section (can be filled out by the superintendent or principal) is for school specific questions and there is a section (to be filled out by the superintendent or designee) that contains questions that apply at the SAU level. The school specific questions can be accessed in the follow manner:

  • In the Application drop-down menu, select Forms, then click the Go button
  • In the Action drop-down menu, select School Approval Form

Please respond to each of the indicators by choosing complete or incomplete.  If the response is “incomplete” to any of the questions, a comment and a brief explanation of how and when you will meet that requirement, must be entered into the comment section.  Having an incomplete does not excuse the school from that requirement as part of school approval.  It means that the school understands that the requirement must be met and is working to meet the statute and regulations in the best interests of students.   Full school approval will not be granted until all the requirements have been met.  Please note that schools that are accredited by New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) must also complete this State school approval process.

Once the school specific section of the EF-I-291 has been completed for all the schools in your SAU, please proceed to the SAU Approval Form. You may access the SAU questions in the following manner:

  • In the Application drop-down menu, select Forms, then click the Go button
  • In the Action drop-down menu, select SAU Approval Form

Please respond to each of the indicators by choosing complete or incomplete.  If the response is “incomplete” to any of the questions, a comment and a brief explanation of how and when you will meet that requirement, must be entered into the comment section.  Having an incomplete does not excuse the school from that requirement as part of school approval.  It means that the school understands that the requirement must be met and is working to meet the statute and regulations in the best interests of students   Full school approval will not be granted until all the requirements have been met.

Once you have completed the section with the SAU questions, you will be automatically directed to the Digital Signature page.  Once you have digitally signed the forms, you will receive a message reporting that the school approval certificates have been mailed and the email address to which they have been sent.  Any schools with “incomplete” answers will not receive certificates until manually approved by MDOE staff.  The school approval certificate will have a term of three years. You can print them out, and also store them electronically for future use.

The electronic form (EF-I-291) and the superintendent’s digital signature must be submitted on-line via the MEDMS system no later than August 10, 2012.  The MEDMS portal for the EF-I 291 will be closed at 5 p.m. on that date.  If you have any questions about submitting the EF-I-291, please contact Edwin N. Kastuck, Ph.D., School Approval Services at edwin.kastuck@maine.gov, or 624-6776.  If you experience difficulty with the application, please contact the MEDMS Helpdesk at 624-6896.

The information contained on the form meets two significant goals:  (1) to provide the Department with documentation of each school’s compliance with the statutes and regulations; and (2) to provide administrators with a more complete list of the requirements to use as a self-assessment.

If anything changes pertaining to the school(s) in your SAU resulting in the school(s) no longer being in compliance with Chapter 125 and the requirement listed in EF-I-291, then please contact Edwin N. Kastuck, Ph.D. using the contact information listed below, to discuss the area of noncompliance and the required corrective action.

Please feel free to contact Dr. Edwin N. Kastuck, School Approval Services, by e-mail or phone 624-6776 if you have any questions about the school approval process.  As noted above, questions regarding the MEDMS system should be directed to the MEDMS Help Desk at 624-6896.

To access the full text of rule chapters cited, please click on the rule number below:

Ch. 33     Rule Governing Physical Restraint and Seclusion
Ch. 51
     Child Nutrition Programs in Public Schools and Institutions
Ch. 81     Uniform School Bus Standards for Pupil Transportation in Maine
Ch. 104   Education Programs for Gifted and Talented Children
Ch. 115   Certification, Authorization and Approval of Educational Personnel
Ch. 125   Basic Approval Standards: Public Schools and School Administrative Units
Ch. 126   Immunization Requirements for Children
Ch. 127   Instructional Program, Assessment, and Diploma Requirements
Ch. 161  Purchase and Storage of Hazardous Chemicals

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