Committee votes to increase subsidy; cuts elsewhere

The following Priority Notice from Maine DOE Acting Commissioner Tom Desjardin was sent to schools on Tuesday, June 2.

Dear Educators,

In the midst of budget discussions in the legislature a lot of information and numbers are flying around and knowing you are in the midst of making your own local budgets, I wanted to give you this update which is current as of Tuesday, June 2 at noon.

On Monday, the Appropriations Committee voted to add $19.5 million per year to the subsidy that goes to local school districts. In addition, they voted to cut funding to local schools that Governor LePage had proposed to support your work on Proficiency Based Education, the School Improvement and Support Fund and money to aid local schools in developing new Educator Effectiveness programs that comply with federal requirements and help Maine keep its waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act. The $1.9 million annually which was proposed by the governor to support Proficiency Based Education is also required under Maine law. The committee has voted to cut it anyway.

Further, the committee voted to cut funding that would allow Maine’s Career and Technical Education programs to get and maintain national certifications for our teachers and students. As you know, keeping these certifications current is critical to helping our students get good jobs in the trades, which is so important to Maine’s economy. Moving this money to the school subsidy prevents it from being used for this purpose.

News reports have stated that the committee had voted to add $50 million per year to GPA which is, of course, highly inaccurate. At present, the actions of the committee have added $19.5 million per year from the General Fund and moved $11 million into the subsidy (within GPA, not into it) by cutting it from the programs mentioned above.

We will keep you updated as often as major issues arise.

Sincerely,

Tom Desjardin, Acting Commissioner
Maine Department of Education