The Maine DOE is committed to supporting and expanding high-quality public preschool programs. The Legislature passed two bills, now Public Laws, which focus on public preschool programs for children four years of age.
Public Law 2013, Chapter 114 established the Commission to Strengthen the Adequacy and Equity of Certain Cost Components of the School Funding Formula, Essential Programs and Services. As part of the review, three components of public preschool programs will be examined: 1) analysis of implementation of program standards in the field, 2) analysis of the targeted funds for preschool to grade 2 students that are allocated specifically for preschool students, 3) collection and review of information on the physical space and facility capacity of school administrative units and project the school facility costs necessary to implement preschool programs.
The second Public Law 2013, Chapter 581 recommends school administrative units phase in their implementation plans for universal availability of public preschool programs by the 2018-19 school year, and requires the Department to develop regulations for program standards.
In order to address the regulatory requirement the Department convened a cross-agency workgroup whose members were listed in LD 1530 to review and update the recommended program standards initially developed in 2007. A rulemaking will be undertaken this fall that will include a public hearing and comment period.
The Joint Committee on Education and Cultural Services has requested that the two-step survey process be undertaken to enable the Department to meet the expectations set forth in both the Public Laws. The first phase of survey will be completed by superintendents. This survey will collect information on the physical space and facility capacity of school administrative units and project the school facility costs necessary for implementation of existing preschool programs, expansion of program day or number of classrooms, or to develop a new program. The information provided needs to be on a classroom basis, by session. The second phase will be sent to the public preschool teachers of existing programs.
The survey is in two parts:
- Phase One of the Public Preschool Survey will allow the Maine DOE to gather basic program facilities and fiscal information to allow the Commission to undertake the analysis. This is information about program contacts, physical space and facility capacity, transportation, program, operational and space costs (both current and projected), and partnerships.
- Phase Two will be sent to the public preschool teachers of existing programs and will determine a baseline as to where classrooms are in terms of meeting the Public Preschool Program Standards, so we can provide the best level of support as schools move to full implementation.
Phase One of the survey, which needs to be completed by superintendents no later than Oct. 10, can be accessed here. Additionally, a PDF of the complete survey can be downloaded here. Phase Two of the survey will be sent out in late October.
The initial survey should take no more than 20 minutes to complete. Superintendents are encouraged to first review the PDF version of the survey before completing the online survey so that they know the information needed. If possible, the Department also recommends the survey be completed in one sitting. While respondents should be able to close their browser and return later to the point where they left off, depending on the district network security and protocols, it is possible that this may not always work. If respondents have problems returning to a partially completed survey, be certain to try from the original computer and location.
The Department looks forward to learning more about districts’ existing programs through this survey, the results of which will inform work on the school funding formula with the Joint Committee on Education and how the Public Preschool Professional Development Coaches can provide support to enhance programs.
For more information about the survey and how it will be used to benefit Maine schools and students, please contact Jaci Holmes at email@example.com or 624-6669. For technical assistance, please contact Craig Mason of the Maine Education Research Policy Institute at firstname.lastname@example.org.