Update on launch of Synergy State Edition Student System and access for school administrative units

Progress is continuing toward the full release of Synergy as Department staff have successfully uploaded and created thousands of student IDs. The next phase in the process will begin on Friday morning, September 22, when the Department will begin a “soft roll out”.  This process will have a select group of school administrative units testing the process and providing feedback for improvements, to ensure a smoother upload process for all units.  Also, a Synergy developer is on site to assist the Department with issues that arise.  The Department’s goal is to make available full access for all superintendents and data specialists, as listed in NEO, on Monday, September 25.  Access for other requested personnel follow within a few working days.  At this time, the upload capability encompasses: New Student IDs, Student Enrollment and Student Personal.  Other upload capabilities will be available in the following days and weeks.

The Department fully anticipates that the system will be ready for the October 1 EPS reports that are required to be certified by October 30.

As a result of the delay in getting data into Synergy, the Department will not be requiring all Quarter 1 reports to be submitted or certified and these reports from the DC&R calendar. Additionally, the “Tips and Trick Web session” will be postponed until the system is fully functional.  Additional updates on this will be posted via the Commissioner’s Update and noted on the Department’s professional development calendar.

Please continue to check the Maine DOE Newsroom communications via the Maine DOE Update for further communications.  Thank you for your patience.  If you have questions or we can be of assistance, please contact the helpdesk at (207) 624-6896, medms.helpdesk@maine.gov or Shannon Bartash, helpdesk manager at (207) 624-6799, shannon.bartash@maine.gov

 

Update about revisions to Rule Chapter 232, expansion of CTE to middle school

Public Law Chapter 171, “An Act To Enable Earlier Introduction of Career and Technical Education in Maine Schools,” was enacted in June to expand career and technical education opportunities by requiring Maine schools to provide access to developmentally-appropriate career and technical education for middle school students (grades 6-8). The expansion of Career and Technical Education (CTE) to middle school builds on a long history of providing high-quality and industry-relevant CTE to students in high school grades 9-12.

Revision of Department of Education Rule Chapter 232, currently underway in accordance with the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) process, will provide a framework to develop and implement middle school career and technical education.

CTE centers and regions will collaborate with all schools serving students in grades 6-8 to provide CTE experiences and will be active partners in how these programs are structured and offered in the best interests of middle school students.

The Department is developing a funding plan for 2018-19 to present to the Legislature designed to ensure adequate resources for this expansion.

Once the proposed rules are adopted and the Legislature has taken action on funding, a timeline for implementation, including program approval and funding, will be made available. Schools will not be required to offer CTE for middle school students in the 2017-2018 school year but they are free to do so if they choose.

Questions may be directed to Margaret Harvey, State Director of Career and Technical Education, at 624-6739 or at Margaret.harvey@maine.gov.

FEDES regional grant opportunity info session on 9/26

The Maine DOE is seeking proposals to fund eligible projects through the Fund for the Efficient Delivery of Educational Services (FEDES) – RFP # 201708145 and is reminding school district administrators and other interested stakeholders of an online/telephone Informational Session next Tuesday, September 26 at 3 p.m. The session will begin with a brief introduction and overview of the FEDES grant opportunity and then be opened up to questions and answers. Those planning to participate in the Informational Session are encouraged to review the RFP in advance and have questions prepared. The RFP can be downloaded from the Division of Purchases website.

To participate in the session, connect online at: https://zoom.us/j/127875149 or by phone at 1-408-638-0968 or 1-646-876-9923, Meeting ID: 127875149.

The FEDES grant opportunity is part of the Maine DOE’s ongoing EMBRACE initiative which provides new opportunities for regionalization. There is $5 million in funding for FEDES available in 2017, and an additional $5 million will be available in 2018 – at this time a separate application will be available.

For more information about FEDES and regional service centers visit: http://www.maine.gov/doe/embrace/Funding.html

Arts Education Participation and Access Data Needed

The Maine Department of Education is committed to supporting access to and participation in the arts as part of Maine students’ well-rounded education. In order to provide a view of trends, challenges, and successes in PreK-12th grade arts education, the department is asking school district to submit student participation and access data for the 2016-2017 school year. School level data that includes courses and enrollment numbers forms the basis of the data collection. Student names, personal information, and unique student identities are not included in this collection.

The Maine DOE will be reviewing and analyzing this arts education data, conduct in-depth analysis of the information, and align instructional practices and resources to support engaging arts experiences for learners. Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, collecting this data will make Maine eligible to apply for arts education grants, resources, and additional supports.

Superintendents should submit their data via the following link: https://mainedoe.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_7QyhoMK8B3GhKRf

For further information contact Beth Lambert, Maine DOE Visual and Performing Arts Specialist at beth.lambert@maine.gov.

 

Repeal and replacement of Chapter 81: Uniform School Bus Standards for Pupil Transportation in Maine

The enacted new regulations that replaced Chapter 81: Uniform School Bus Standards for Pupil Transportation in Maine and became effective on 9/16/17 can be found on the following link: http://maine.gov/doe/transportation/laws/index.html

In order to provide increased clarity and durability to its regulations relating to student transportation, the Department broke the existing Chapter 81 into six shorter regulations, Chapters 81-86. Most of the language of the former Chapter 81, with the exception of specifications, remains; however, minor changes to existing regulatory language were made in order to modernize the regulations with technical, language, and process updates to make it easier for all to understand and use.  The enacted new rules include the following updates:

  • Chapter 81 School Transportation Safety identifies uniform safety requirements that include student riding safety practices training, school bus driver entry-level training, transportation employee in-service safety training, prohibitions, school bus daily inspections, contracts, year-end transportation reports, and records retention.
  • Chapter 82 School Bus Driver Fitness Determination retains the requirement of an annual physical and adapts to federal changes by moving to use of the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Medical Examination Report Form and National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners. Please note annual physical renewal date will remain the same.
  • Chapter 83 School Transportation Operations Program establishes requirements for access to transportation operations software made available by the Department at no cost to public schools, including public charter schools, and private schools approved for the receipt of public funds.
  • Chapter 84 School Bus Refurbishment Program contains requirements derived from the existing Memorandum of Understanding between the Department and the Maine Military Authority for participation in the School Bus Refurbishment Program.
  • Chapter 85 School Bus Purchase Program retains most of the language while modernizing the regulation with technical, language, and process updates.
  • Chapter 86 Maine Uniform School Bus Specifications updates school bus specifications to align with both state and federal standards by adopting, with exceptions, the National School Transportation Specifications and Procedures 2015 as enacted by the National Congress on School Transportation.

Questions should be directed to Pat Hinckley, Transportation and Facilities Administration, at 624-6886 or pat.hinckley@maine.gov .

Health update: mosquito-borne illnesses and schools

Maine Department of Education in collaboration with Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) is sharing this important guidance with schools regarding mosquito-borne illnesses. Maine CDC developed the information and guidance in this letter. Two mosquito-borne illnesses are considered a local risk in Maine: Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile virus (WNV).  Both are potentially serious viral infections transmitted to people from the bite of an infected mosquito.  The disease is especially severe in children (as well as adults over 50).  There is no vaccine or effective treatment for humans.  Therefore, prevention strategies are critical.

Maine saw the first human case of WNV in 2012 and the first human case of EEE in 2014. Maine did not identify any positive EEE or WNV mosquito pools, human cases, or animal cases in 2016 and to date in 2017. Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont identified mosquito pools positive for WNV in 2017 and Massachusetts identified a mosquito pool positive for EEE.

Maine also identified other mosquito-borne viruses including two cases of locally-acquired Jamestown Canyon virus and one case of travel-associated Zika virus to date in 2017. New Hampshire also identified one case of locally-acquired Jamestown Canyon virus.

The risk for contracting mosquito-borne diseases is highest from dusk to dawn and when temperatures are above 50 degrees (and especially above 60 degrees), since these are the conditions when mosquitoes are most actively biting.

Schools play an important role in preventing mosquito-borne illnesses.  Maine CDC and its consulting experts recommend:

  • Cover up outdoors. Children and others on outdoor field trips and participating in other outdoor activities for a significant amount of time when the temperature is above 50 degrees should be encouraged to cover up with long sleeve shirts, pants, and socks; and/or
  • Use repellent.   Use an EPA approved repellent containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus on exposed skin and/or clothing.  The repellent/insecticide permethrin can be used on clothing and can be effective through several washes.  Always follow the package directions.  For details on recommended repellents see: http://cfpub.epa.gov/oppref/insect/index.cfm

    • School employees and volunteers must have authorization from parents or guardians before applying repellants to minor children (CMR 01-026, Chapter 10, Section 2.I.4.iii): http://www.maine.gov/sos/cec/rules/01/026/026c010.doc

    • Schools that schedule practices or games at dusk or evening with temperatures above 50 degrees should encourage the use of repellant for all participants including coaches and observers.

Implement Integrated Pest Management strategies. Since we anticipate the risk from mosquito-borne illnesses to continue, schools should consult with their IPM Coordinator to review their IPM policy. Information on Maine’s School IPM Program can be found at http://www.maine.gov/dacf/php/integrated_pest_management/school/index.shtml

Please monitor Maine CDC’s arboviral website for the most up to date information on positives detected in the state. If mosquito-borne disease activity increases in your area, the following strategies should be implemented:

  1. Use EPA approved repellents. These should be available to both students and staff who are outdoors, particularly during dusk and dawn hours. If you have an outdoor event, repellent should be available to spectators as well to limit the risk of mosquito-borne diseases.
  2. Consult with your school IPM coordinator and implement a plan to reduce the number of mosquitoes and mosquito breeding sites on school grounds.
  3. Limit and/or reschedule evening outdoor activities. Unless the dusk temperature is forecast to be less than 50 degrees, limit or reschedule outdoor evening activities such as school athletic events so people are able to go indoors by one hour before sunset.

All these recommendations are especially true in those areas with previously-identified mosquito-borne illnesses. However, the lack of identified virus in an area of the state does not mean there is no risk.

Maine CDC has one-page fact sheets for EEE, WNV, and repellents which we encourage you to send home with students, share by email, and/or post on your school website(s), as you deem appropriate. You can access the facts sheet here: http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/infectious-disease/epi/vector-borne/index.shtml.

Resources to learn more about mosquito-borne illness and mosquito control:

Maine Department of Education and Maine CDC continue to work very closely together and are greatly appreciative of your assistance in keeping Maine’s children and school communities healthy.

For further questions, contact Maine DOE School Nurse Consultant, Emily Poland at Emily.Poland@maine.gov

Proposal of a new model for Child Development Services (CDS)

Child Development Services (CDS) is currently responsible for the state-wide administration of special education services for children with disabilities who are birth to 5 years (or in the school age range) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Recently, the Department of Education has developed a new model for providing these services, the intent of which is to move the provision of children with disabilities ages 3 years to school age range from current State run programming to the public schools systems. Under this model, all aspects of special education services for this age group would become the responsibility of the local district. This includes case management, child find, evaluation, eligibility determination, IEP development, and the provision of special education and related services.

The impetus for this change is to transform the current model to better address the needs of children with disabilities by decreasing their transitions between programs at an early age, providing more frequent, appropriate and timely services closer to home, and introducing an earlier integration into their local schools.

At this point in time, Maine is one of the only states in which the public school does not assume responsibility for eligible children upon their 3rd birthday.

Under the current model, flat state funding, rising costs in special education and inadequate management of resources have caused not only a multimillion dollar deficit within the CDS program, but also a shortage in state level special education service which has impacted hundreds of Maine children who are currently not receiving the services they need.

Also under the current model, children and families experience two transitions within the State’s CDS program: the first from CDS’ early Intervention program to CDS’ program for children ages 3 to 5/school age range, and then another transition to the public school system. Under the legislation, children and families would experience only one transition – from CDS’ early intervention program to the public school system. Also, unlike the current model, eligible children will have the opportunity to attend their local, neighborhood school rather than being transported, sometimes significant distances, to attend out-of-district, center-based programs.

The transformation is anticipated to address these issues by providing earlier integration into local districts, and by better use of resources already in place within districts, including existing district-employed special education teachers, therapists, human resource and finance staff, and transportation infrastructure.

The Department recognizes that the proposed transition presents a significant paradigm shift, and that there is a need for a measured, tiered implementation, as well as ongoing fiscal and technical support including direct state funding to local districts.

As part of a working plan to create a smooth transition for local districts, the Department is currently working with one district that is planning to pilot a program that will offer special education services for children ages 3 to school age in their district. A number of other districts have approached the Department eager to take on the responsibility as well. The transition process is expected to take a couple of years.

This change will be reflected in proposed departmental legislation submitted for the Legislature’s consideration during the 2018 short session.

As we gather questions and information from local districts and other stakeholders, we will be putting forth answers to frequently asked questions and using gathered information to inform the process. In addition, a stakeholder group, including district leaders and parents will be formed to advise the proposed legislation and transition plan.

While this proposed transition may present some initial challenges, the Department is confident that it is ultimately the right choice for the best interest of Maine’s children with disabilities.

For more information contact Roy Fowler, CDS State Director for the Maine Department of Education at Roy.Fowler@maine.gov.

Maine DOE Update – September 14, 2017

From the Maine Department of Education


Notices and Reporting Items

Professional Development Opportunities

More Notices | Administrative Letters | Reporting Calendar


News & Views

Maine DOE announces $5 million available for regional grant opportunities

The State of Maine has announced a competitive grant opportunity for the Fund for Efficient Delivery of Educational Services (FEDES) to assist in financing the cost of local and regional initiatives to improve educational opportunity and student achievement through more efficient delivery of education programs and services. The FEDES grant opportunity is part of the Maine DOE’s ongoing opportunities for regionalization. | More

Maine’s Every Student Succeeds Act approved by U.S. Dept. of Education

In a letter from the United States Department of Education last week, the Maine Department of Education was notified of the approval of Maine’s consolidated state plan under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). | More

Maine’s Comprehensive Needs Assessment and SAU Consolidated Plan Template announced – regional training sessions available

The Maine Department of Education now has available a template for School Administrative Units (SAU) and schools to utilize when completing a Comprehensive Needs Assessment (CNA) and School Administrative Unit (SAU) Consolidated Plan as required under the recently reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). | More

Schoolwide Programs and Consolidation of Funds

To facilitate the inclusion of students with disabilities in schoolwide programs, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and its implementing regulations  allow school administrative units (SAUs) to use a portion of the funds they receive under Part B of IDEA to fund schoolwide programs. In accordance with Title I, Part A, as amended by ESSA, schoolwide programs are comprehensive reform strategies aimed at raising the achievement levels of all students. | More

Update about participation in the Multi-State Alternate Assessment (MSAA)

Using the October 1, 2017 enrollment counts, the Maine Department of Education will calculate the percentage of students in each district that have been identified as students eligible to take Multi-State Alternate Assessment (MSAA), Maine’s MEA Alternate Mathematics and English language arts/literacy assessment. | More

MaineCare Q417 Seed report review delayed

The MaineCare Q417 Seed reports that are regularly scheduled for School Administrative Units (SAU) to review claims for accuracy will be delayed. | More

U.S. Senate Youth Program Application Deadline is Oct. 6

The United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP), established in 1962, is a unique educational experience for outstanding high school students. Each year, two student leaders from each state, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense Education Activity spend a week in Washington, D.C., experiencing their national government in action. Student delegates hear major policy addresses by senators, cabinet members, officials from the Departments of State and Defense and directors of other federal agencies. Delegates also participate in a meeting with a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. In addition, each delegate will be awarded a $10,000 college scholarship. All transportation, hotel and meal expenses are provided by the Hearst Foundations. | More

Free research-based curriculum regarding transition services to students with emotional disabilities

For those interested, there is a unique opportunity for schools to receive a free research-based curriculum regarding transition services to students with emotional disabilities.  This curriculum is being offered by the National Technical Assistance Center on Transition and UMass Medical School. Participating schools will receive a stipend for utilizing and evaluating the program.  | More

New Resource for Discussions about Special Education Services

The Maine Department of Education is notifying educators, parents and others about a new resource, Five Questions Parents and Educators Can Ask to Start Conversations About Using Terms like Learning Disabilities, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, and Dysgraphia that might be especially useful for those who talk with parents about children with specific learning disabilities. | More

More Dispatches | Press Releases | Priority Notices


Latest DOE Career/Project Opportunities

Maine’s Comprehensive Needs Assessment and SAU Consolidated Plan Template announced – regional training sessions available

The Maine Department of Education now has available a template for School Administrative Units (SAU) and schools to utilize when completing a Comprehensive Needs Assessment (CNA) and School Administrative Unit (SAU) Consolidated Plan as required under the recently reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

The intent of the Comprehensive Needs Assessment and SAU Consolidated Plan template document is to prevent the duplication of work and reporting to the Maine Department of Education from SAUs while meeting necessary requirements under Elementary and Secondary Education (ESEA) Federal Programs, SAU Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Consolidated Plans, and Schoolwide Application for Title I Schools.  This revised process will make for a more purposeful and meaningful approach to leveraging state, local and federal funding, inform data driven decisions and move away from a compliance mindset.

The template document has been constructed with representatives from Special Services, School Improvement, Student & School Supports and Federal Programs to ensure alignment and collaboration across programs. Section 1112 (a-b) of the ESEA as amended by the ESSA in conjunction with Chapter 125, Section 4 of Maine Statute stipulates a SAU Consolidated Plan is required to be submitted to the Maine Department of Education for approval.

Completed SAU Consolidated Plans must be submitted to the Maine Department of Education on or before July 1, 2018. The utilization of the CNA and SAU Consolidated Plan template will ensure all required elements are included.

In order to support SAUs with the completion of the SAU Consolidated Plan, the Department has developed the following Regional Training Schedule to support the SAU completion of the Comprehensive Needs Assessment. Registration can be completed through the session title hyperlinks below.

Introduction to the Needs Assessment Process

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

8 AM – 11:30 AM Lewiston School Department Central Office, Dingley Building

1 PM – 4 PM Augusta, Cross State Office Building, Room 103

Friday, September 29, 2017

10 AM – 2 PM Brewer, Jeff’s Catering

Data Support

Monday, October 2, 2017

8AM – 11:30 AM Lewiston School Department Central Office, Dingley Building

1 PM – 4 PM Augusta, Cross State Office Building, Room 103

Thursday, October 19, 2018

10 AM – 2 PM Brewer, Jeff’s Catering

A guidance document is also available to SAUs. This document provides guiding questions for SAUs to ponder and respond to when completing the CNA. The SAU Consolidated Plan will be developed after the CNA is completed. A copy of the Comprehensive Needs Assessment and SAU Consolidated Plan template and the guidance document can be accessed on Maine’s ESSA webpage at the following location: http://maine.gov/doe/essa/

In order to register for the upcoming professional development sessions, please click on the hyperlinks included below. By clicking on the appropriate link you will be brought to a registration form.

Introduction to the Needs Assessment Process

Data Support

For further information please contact:

Janette Kirk

Federal Programs & Title I Director

(207) 624-6707

Janette.Kirk@maine.gov

Update about participation in the Multi-State Alternate Assessment (MSAA)

Using the October 1, 2017 enrollment counts, the Maine Department of Education will calculate the percentage of students in each district that have been identified as students eligible to take Multi-State Alternate Assessment (MSAA), Maine’s MEA Alternate Mathematics and English language arts/literacy assessment.

Districts are encouraged to use the participating guidelines http://www.maine.gov/doe/alternate/resources.html to ensure all students identified meet the criteria to participate in alternate assessments.  All districts with more than one percent of their students identified in the testing grades, 3 – 8 and third year high school will be notified by the Department as being above the current Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) 1% cap and given an opportunity to reassess their numbers.

The final date for resubmission of student identification or justification for a district above the 1% is November 15th.

Assistance to look at student’s achievement levels in MAARS, identifying a student’s status in Synergy and an overview of the participation criteria for the alternate assessment will be given at the MADSEC conference on Friday, November 3, 2017.

For more information on participation in alternate assessments contact Sue Nay at sue.nay@maine.gov or 624-6774.