Improvements to the school approval process

ADMINISTRATIVE LETTER: 63
POLICY CODE: CM

The Maine Department of Education is making a number of changes to the annual School Approval (EF-I-291) form to simplify filing, including pre-population of fields and requiring that the form only be filed once every three years. In addition, schools will not be required to file the form for the current school year.

These changes are being made as a result of concerns raised by superintendents and recommendations made by the Red Tape Superintendents Group appointed by the Commissioner earlier this year and a subsequently tasked group of superintendents and Department staff. All groups generally agreed that the process needed to be streamlined and simplified.

As a result of the recommendations of the Red Tape Superintendents Group and a Department staff and superintendents working group, the following changes and improvements in the basic school approval process will be made, beginning with the 2012-2013 school year:

  • Reporting categories will be reduced to eight major categories.
  • SAU-wide and building-specific reporting categories will be grouped together on the form.
  • The form will be compatible across all platforms and software including Firefox and Safari.
  • The form will be prepopulated after the baseline reporting school year 2012-2013 to facilitate filing in subsequent years.
  • The form will provide space for superintendents to explain corrective action plans, simplifying what is currently a multi-step process.
  • The form will be submitted and digitally signed simultaneously.
  • The Department will post a blank form and frequently asked questions on its website for reference at the local level.
  • Beginning with the 2012-2013 school year, basic school approval will occur on a three-year electronic filing cycle and certificates will be awarded for three years.

In order to accommodate the significant revisions that need to be made in the electronic filing form EF-I-291 and to permit a transition to a three-year school approval application, schools will not be required to file form EF-I-291 for the current 2011-2012 school year.

All schools that were approved for the 2010-2011 school year will receive an instructional email explaining how to print a certificate valid for the current 2011-12 school year. Superintendents will receive this email on or shortly after Nov. 7, 2011. If there are any problems with the printing of certificates, please contact Dede Gilbert, Secretary Specialist, at dede.gilbert@maine.gov or call 207-624-6606.

These changes will be presented at various superintendents’ forums; questions should be directed to Edwin N. Kastuck, Ph.D., School Approval Services at edwin.kastuck@maine.gov or call 207-624-6776.