Clarification of public preschool program requirements

The Maine DOE has received many inquiries from school district personnel seeking clarification on the public preschool legislation passed last spring.

The law states that while districts may opt to offer public preschool programs, there is no requirement that they do so, nor that they provide slots for all eligible 4-year-olds to attend.

Additionally, there have been questions posed about accessing the program start-up funding referenced in the final law. The Department will release an online process early next year by which districts can apply for that funding if it becomes available.

In the meantime, the Maine DOE continues to be a resource to districts as they look to voluntarily establish or expand public preschool programs. The Department was recently awarded $14.8 million by the U.S. Department of Education to support the expansion of preschool access in the state and is in the process of a rulemaking that would put in place standards to ensure the quality of approved public preschool programs. Additional resources are available to districts here on the Early Childhood Education section of the Department’s website.

For more information or technical assistance related to early childhood education or public preschool planning, please contact the Maine DOE’s Early Childhood Education Specialist Sue Reed at susan.d.reed@maine.gov or 624-6632.