Category Archives: Legislation

Commissioner’s Update – May 21, 2015

From the Maine Department of Education

On Monday May 18 the legislature’s Joint Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs held a work session on LD 695 “An Act To Empower Parents in the Education of Their Children by Allowing an Opt-out from Standardized Assessments.” The end result was that 11 of the 13 committee members voted not to force local school districts to inform parents of their right to opt-out of statewide assessment. Two of the eleven voted to pass a version of the bill without that requirement. The bill now goes to the Maine House and Senate.

Discussion of the bill included a lot of information regarding the legal aspects of this potential action. This included legal opinions from attorneys with both the Office of the Maine Attorney General and the legislature’s Office of Policy and Legal Analysis.

Both attorneys advised the committee that parents and students have a right to not take the standardized statewide assessment. No one is going to force a child to sit and take the test. They do not, however, have a right to be shielded from the consequences of that act which could range from action by the school district or loss of federal funding for the school. Local school districts in Maine have the authority under state law to place requirements on students and not award a diploma if the student does not meet these requirements. This could include things such as community service, a senior year graduation exam, or participation in statewide or local assessments.

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Notices and Reporting

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News & Views

Annual MLTI student technology conference brings 1000+ to UMaine Thursday

Over 1,000 students and educators will bring their Maine Department of Education provided digital devices to UMaine on Thursday for a one-day conference. | More

Maine DOE announces teacher leadership summit

The Maine DOE is promoting the Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teaching and Teachers (ECET2) summit at Colby College in Waterville on August 6-7. | More

Hiring standards for school nutrition program directors take effect July 1

Beginning July 1 school nutrition program directors will be required to meet new hiring standards as a result of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) recent ruling establishing national professional standards for all school nutrition employees. | More

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Hiring standards for school nutrition program directors take effect July 1

Beginning July 1 school nutrition program directors will be required to meet new hiring standards as a result of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) recent ruling establishing national professional standards for all school nutrition employees.

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Notice regarding “opting-out” of statewide assessments

The following Priority Notice from Maine DOE Acting Commissioner Tom Desjardin was sent to schools on Wednesday, May 20.

Dear Educators,

On Monday (5/18/15) the legislature’s Joint Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs held a work session on LD 695 “An Act To Empower Parents in the Education of Their Children by Allowing an Opt-out from Standardized Assessments.” The end result was that 11 of the 13 committee members voted not to force local school districts to inform parents of their right to opt-out of statewide assessment. Two of the eleven voted to pass a version of the bill without that requirement. The bill now goes to the Maine House and Senate.

Discussion of the bill included a lot of information regarding the legal aspects of this potential action. This included legal opinions from attorneys with both the Office of the Maine Attorney General and the legislature’s Office of Policy and Legal Analysis.

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Commissioner’s Update – May 14, 2015

From the Maine Department of Education

LD 131 “An Act To Amend the Laws Related to Public Funding of Charter Schools” was signed May 8, 2015 by Governor LePage. Under the new law  Maine DOE will make monthly payments directly to approved public charter schools starting in FY16, the same way the Department has long distributed funds to traditional public school districts.

Currently, districts that lose students to public charter schools are billed directly by the receiving charter school. The Maine DOE will provide financial relief to traditional school units since they no longer must include these payments in their annual budgets.

The new funding method will relieve the unpredictable financial impact of charters to individual (sending) districts and was overwhelmingly supported by leaders of Maine’s school districts, including the 100 or so that now have at least one student enrolled in one of the state’s five bricks-and-mortar charter schools or the virtual Maine Connections Academy. The change also allows Maine to move beyond the divisive debate about charter school funding and refocus on how to create opportunities for students to be most successful at Maine public schools, whether they be charters or traditional.

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News & Views

First Lady LePage, Acting Education Commissioner announce 2015 County Teachers of the Year

First Lady Ann LePage and Acting Education Commissioner Tom Desjardin marked Teacher Appreciation Week by announcing the top teacher from each Maine county. | More

Maine Department of Education pledges additional funding to support autism resource, research institute

The Maine Department of Education is committing over $150,000 to continue the work of the state’s first autism institute. | More

Department seeks feedback on ESEA waiver renewal

The Maine DOE is seeking feedback on Maine’s proposed Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Waiver Renewal application. | More

Alternate assessment for math, ELA closing May 15

The deadline to submit the National Center and State Collaborative Alternate Assessment (NCSC), used to assess students with the most significant cognitive disabilities in mathematics and English language arts is this Friday, May 15. | More

Maine DOE joins library advocates in Washington, D.C. for National Library Legislative Day

Last week the Maine DOE was represented along with hundreds of library supporters in Washington, D.C. to speak with their legislators about the importance of libraries. | More

Notice to 30th annual school wellness conference applicants; due date extended to May 29

If your school submitted an application for the 30th Annual Maine Schoolsite Health Promotion Program “Wellness” Conference to the Maine DOE but has not yet received a confirmation please contact the Department. | More

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Governor LePage signs charter school funding fix

LD 131 “An Act To Amend the Laws Related to Public Funding of Charter Schools” was signed May 8, 2015 by Governor LePage. Under the new law  Maine DOE will make monthly payments directly to approved public charter schools starting in FY16, the same way the Department has long distributed funds to traditional public school districts.

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Department seeks feedback on ESEA waiver renewal

The Maine DOE is seeking feedback on Maine’s proposed Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Waiver Renewal application. The application, with documented changes to the original application, demonstrates how the State’s current accountability and improvement system is implemented to serve Maine’s students and schools while outlining future implementation of the ESEA Flexibility Waiver over the next three years.

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Commissioner’s Update – April 16, 2015

From the Maine Department of Education

The Maine DOE is encouraging educators to attend the Fostering Financial Education in Maine Schools conference on May 1 at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.

The conference, which is hosted by the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, is intended for educators, administrators and counselors who are interested in improving the financial capability of Maine students. The event will feature free financial education resources for K-12 and college-age students with a variety of workshops presented by classroom teachers and financial literacy experts.

As part of Maine DOE’s ongoing efforts to support financial education, the Department’s Social Studies Specialist Kristie Littlefield will be conducting a session.

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Notices and Reporting

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News & Views

Governor LePage supports SEALSfit Program, allocates $16,000 from contingency fund

Governor Paul R. LePage announced this month he is allocating $16,000 to the SEALSfit youth leadership program. | More

SAT irregularity reports due April 17

The College Board is reminding Test Center Supervisors at Maine schools that participated in the April 15 SAT School Day Administration and have their make-up date on April 29, that they must submit any irregularity reports to ETS by Friday, April 17. | More

2015 Educator Talent Pool recommendations due May 1

The Maine DOE is accepting recommendations for the 2015 Maine Educator Talent Pool through May 1. | More

Department announces reporting requirement, resources to help Special Purpose Private Schools support pathways to proficiency

The Maine DOE is providing the state’s Special Purpose Private Schools (SPPS) with new resources so their students are better positioned on the pathway to proficiency. | More

Webinar to overview School Improvement Grant process for eligible schools

The Maine DOE has submitted its federal application for continued School Improvement Grant (SIG) funding. If approved for the sixth straight year, the Department would receive funding to distribute to help the state’s most struggling schools. | More

Maine DOE trains 28 districts in language of science

The Maine DOE ESL/Bilingual Programs recently provided training for 28 school districts in developing and using language effectively to make connections between science language and science concepts. | More

May 20 workshop to focus on supporting young children with autism

The Maine DOE is encouraging educators to attend a May 20 workshop entitled Language and Communication for Young Children with Autism. | More

 

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Maine DOE webinar to overview School Improvement Grant process for eligible schools

The Maine DOE has submitted its federal application for continued School Improvement Grant (SIG) funding. If approved for the sixth straight year, the Department would receive funding to distribute to help the state’s most struggling schools close achievement gaps.

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Commissioner’s Update – April 9, 2015

From the Maine Department of Education

AUGUSTA – Maine’s high school graduation rate has hit an all-time high, as has the percentage of students who are either economically disadvantaged or have a disability and are earning their diploma in four years.

According to newly released data from the Maine Department of Education, 86.48 percent of the students who entered the ninth grade in the fall of 2010 graduated on time in 2014. That’s up just slightly from 86.36 percent in 2013 and well above the 80.3 percent graduation rate reached in 2009-2010 when the current calculation method was introduced.

In announcing the rising rate, Maine’s Acting Education Commissioner Tom Desjardin said he is especially encouraged to see the state make such progress in narrowing achievement gaps though he urged more work must be done.

“All children can learn and deserve equal opportunity to do so in our schools,” Desjardin said. “I want to thank Maine’s educators for their hard work in supporting an increasing number of historically academically disadvantaged students find success. Moving forward, we must continue to improve both our graduation rate and the value of the diplomas awarded by our schools so that every student leaves with the foundation they need to achieve their full potential.”

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News & Views

Maine student artwork selected for MLTI screensavers

Twenty-one student artists will have an audience of more than 70,000 students and educators for their artwork starting this fall. | More

Maine DOE releases online public preschool application

The Maine DOE has created a new online application form that will make it easier for districts to apply for State approval of new or expanding public preschool programs. | More

Maine DOE seeks surrogate parents to support students with disabilities

The Maine DOE is seeking volunteers to serve as surrogate parents for children with disabilities in educational matters. | More

Maine DOE helps expand internet access in rural Washington County

Maine DOE’s Learning Through Technology Team was in Washington County last week to lend its support for the “Check-out the Internet” event at Cherryfield Free Public Library. | More

Department offers webinars in advance of ELL assessment

The Maine DOE is providing two webinars this spring to assist schools as they prepare for the 2015-16 administration of the computer-based English language proficiency assessment, ACCESS for ELLs 2.0. | More

Migrant Education Program’s Blueberry Harvest School wins state environmental award

The Blueberry Harvest School has been named the winner of the Maine Environmental Education Association Excellence in Environmental Education Program Award. | More

Maine team drives away champions of national bus roadeo

Lisa Gadway and Gregg McGoff from the Fairfield-based MSAD 49 recently earned first place for their performance in the 18th Annual National Special Needs Team Safety Roadeo. | More

April 13 webinar overviews federal student privacy laws

The Maine DOE is encouraging district staff to review the Privacy Technical Assistance Center’s latest guidance document: Protecting Student Privacy While Using Online Educational Services: Model Terms of Service during a webinar on Monday, April 13. | More

Maine DOE provides nutrition equipment assistance

The Department is encouraging schools to apply for their share of the $75,542 that Maine has been awarded in food service equipment assistance. | More

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Maine DOE releases online public preschool application

The Maine DOE has created a new online application form that will make it easier for districts to apply for State approval of new or expanding public preschool programs.

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