Priority Notice: Maine DOE seeks public comment on waiving requirement that 21st CCLC programs operate only during non-school hours

In response to the unprecedented obstacles schools, teachers, students, and their families are facing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) has offered an additional waiver to state education agencies, pursuant to section 4201(b)(1)(A) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA).  Under Title IV, Part B of the ESEA, section 4201(b)(1)(A) requiring that 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) programs operate only during non-school hours or periods when school is not in session.  If granted, this waiver would allow 21st CCLC program providers in Maine to temporarily operate with greater flexibilities to better meet the needs to students and families during the 2020-2021 school year.

This waiver would grant the Maine Department of Education (DOE) temporary authority to permit its 21st CCLC programs to provide supplemental services when school is in session, but students are not receiving in-person instruction.  For example, it would be permitted that a teacher provides additional 21st CCLC-funded academic supports for a group of students during a remote learning day when those students are not otherwise engaged in facilitated instruction with their classroom teacher.

The Maine DOE continues to work diligently to support Maine’s schools and educational communities as the 2020-2021 school year begins.  Given the hybrid instructional approaches many schools have adopted this year, students may benefit from dedicated staff and enhanced resources to help with remote lessons, independent work, and other enrichment opportunities during the portion of the week when remote lessons learning is occurring.  It is for reasons such as these that the Maine DOE has chosen to pursue this waiver.

As part of the statutory requirements for seeking this waiver, the Maine DOE must solicit and respond to public comment on its waiver request as well as provide evidence of the available comment period.  This 15-day public comment period shall begin on September 29, 2020 and conclude on October 14, 2020.

Comments may be submitted to: travis.w.doughty@maine.gov

Application Deadline Extended for Maine’s Leadership Development Program  

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) is pleased to announce the opportunity for Maine leaders to participate in the 2020-2021 Maine Leadership Development Program (LDP) cohort!  The Maine LDP is an initiative designed to build and strengthen instructional leadership skills among Maine’s educational leaders at the school, district, and state levels. In our ongoing efforts to support and foster the educational expertise in Maine, educators who aspire to do the same are invited to take advantage of this high impact opportunity!

The Department will re-open the application process for a limited time.  Applications will be due by September 28, 2020 in order to ensure that selected participants are prepared to participate in Unit 1 on October 19 and October 20. A link to access more information and application materials can be found below.

During the 2019-2020 school year, the Maine DOE partnered with the National Institute for School Leadership (NISL) to prepare the first cohort of candidates to become certified trainers and facilitators of future cohorts.  The 2020-2021 cohort will be led by Maine leaders committed to excellence in education.

Maine’s LDP is delivered through a blended learning model including case studies, inquiry, and hands-on activities with practical applications that meet the rigorous expectations for today’s educational leaders.  Successful completion of the LDP may contribute to credit hours for participants pursuing an advanced degree or contact hours for re-certification purposes.

Benefits for Maine Schools

  • Prepares educational leaders to lead for excellence and equity
  • Increases student achievement, and fosters a culture of high expectations
  • Enhances teacher recruitment, retention, and quality

Program Curriculum

  • Nationally researched, evidenced-based, and locally delivered in a cohort model
  • Improves the practice of leadership, transforms instruction and student achievement in schools
  • Consists of 12 two-day units, delivered in 12 months
  • Bridged with online coursework, readings, and job-embedded application of key concepts through action learning

Characteristics of Ideal Candidates

  • A belief in and commitment to improving instruction and increasing achievement for all students
  • Experience in a leadership role at the school, district, and/or state level with background as a classroom teacher. Ideal candidates include, but are not limited to, teachers, principals, assistant principals, instructional coaches, deans, Title I directors, department leaders, ESEA coordinators, special education directors, English Learner directors, assistant superintendents, instruction and curriculum directors, CTE instructors, CTE directors, and superintendents. Priority will be given to educational leaders from schools identified to receive Tier III support throughout Maine.
  • Excellent communications skills; able to effectively facilitate professional development for peers
  • Demonstrated skills in mentoring and coaching
  • Experience as a successful practitioner who is able to translate concepts to actions, theory to practice, and programs to craft
  • Able to participate in the entire Maine LDP Program and deeply engage in action learning
  • Likely to live and work in Maine for the next five years

Please visit http://www.maine.gov/doe/educators/maineldp to hear from participants and for more information.

To view the program schedule and download the application visit:  https://www.maine.gov/doe/educators/maineldp/application.

The Department encourages educational leaders to consider applying for this exciting opportunity!

For more information please email emily.doughty@maine.gov.

End of School Year 19’-20’Checklist for Completing Reports

The following checklist is designed to assist school administrative units (SAUs) with publicly funded students in completing required end of year reports.  The dates listed after each report are when the report is open for entry and due for certification, if required.

Synergy:  The following items are available in the Synergy Student Information System. Please visit the Synergy Instructions Helpdesk Page for Synergy codes to be used for the items below.

Special Education – exit any students who have left special education: Special Education will not need to be ended unless the student is exiting the special education program. Special Education services will need to be uploaded each year. Special Education Exit Reporting Instructions

Update/End ALL Enrollments (done last):

Manual Student Enrollment Exit Instructions

Upload Student Enrollment Exit Instructions

  • DOE will NOT be automatically ending enrollments
  • Concurrent enrollment MUST be ended before the primary enrollment can be ended
  • All students will need to be exited on their actual last day of school. This may be verified using “Attending Student Report”
  • June 30 should not be automatically populated for the last day of school
  • Future exit dates that are more than 7 days out are not permitted in the system
  • Ending a student’s enrollment will end Economic Status and Truancy – to avoid this, update Truancy records prior to ending enrollments
  • Ending enrollments will prevent you from manually updating Attendance Data. Once an enrollment has been ended, attendance data can only be modified by uploading the data.
  • New enrollments will need to be uploaded/entered as well as special education information each school year.

Annual End of Year Reports and Certifications:

The following items are Annual Reports for the 2019/2020 school year. Instructions for these reports can be found here: Annual Report Instructions.

The report listed below is linked directly to its corresponding certification report in NEO

Graduation Phase I : Verified and certified by Superintendent. May 15th – June 15th  Graduation Phase 1 Instructions

Maine Schools and School Approval – Verified and certified by Superintendent by June 30th.  Instructions can be found at:  Instructions for Maine Schools

Special Education Exit Report – Verified and certified by Special Ed Director or Superintendent. June 1st – July 30th Instructions can be found at:  Special Education Exit Reporting Instructions

Bullying reporting – Verified and certified by Superintendent. June 1st -June 30th.  Instructions can be found at: Bullying Reporting Instructions

Report of Adult Education for Subsidy Purposes (EF-M-39A) – Submitted by the Special Education Director and certified by the Superintendent. June 1st – July 15th.  Instructions can be found at: EF-M-39 Report of Adult Education Instructions

School Health Report.  May 1st – July 31st.  Instructions can be found  within the portal at: School Health Report.

Restraint and Seclusion Report – Verified and certified by Superintendent. June 15 – August 1. The instructions can be accessed within the portal, found at:  SAR portal.

Graduation Phase II: Verified and certified by Superintendent. August 1st – August 31st.  Instructions can be found at:  Graduation Phase II Instructions

Q4 Actual Balance Sheet July 1 – August 23.  Instructions can be found at:  Actual Balance Sheet Instructions

Q4 Actual Expenditure July 1 – August 23.  Instructions can be found at: Actual Expenditure Instructions

Q4 Actual Revenue July 1 – August 23.  Instructions can be found at: Actual Revenue Instructions

Q1 Budget Expenditure – Due by 8/14/2020 or 30 days after the budget passes, whichever is later.  Instructions can be found at: Budget Expenditure Instructions

Q1 Budget Revenue – Due by 8/2/2020 or 30 days after the budget passes, whichever is later.  Instructions can be found at: Budget Revenue Instructions

If you have questions about these reports, (i.e. what should be entered) please contact the specialist listed below:

Maine Schools: Katherine Warren 624-6716  Katherine.Warren@Maine.gov

Special Education: Brandi Giguere 624-6648 Brandi.A.Giguere@Maine.gov

Financial Reports: Tyler Backus 624-6635 Tyler.Backus@Maine.gov

School Approvals: Pam Ford-Taylor 624-6617 Pamela.Ford-Taylor@Maine.gov

Bullying: Kellie Bailey 441-5378 Kellie.Bailey@Maine.gov

Restraint and Seclusion: Bear Shea 441-7404 W.Bear.Shea@Maine.gov

School Health Report: Emily Poland 592-0387 Emily.Poland@Maine.gov

If you have questions about accessing the reports, please call or email the helpdesk, 624-6896 or MEDMS.helpdesk@maine.gov

If you do not have credentials for Synergy or NEO, the district superintendent may grant access using the appropriate webform on the Helpdesk Page:

  • Synergy Access Request here
  • NEO Access Request here

PRIORITY NOTICE: Expanded Authority of Reserve Funds

An Act Regarding the Reserve Funds of Certain School Organizational Structures was signed by Governor Mills on March 12, 2020 and will become effective on June 16, 2020.

The contents of the new legislation are summarized below and may be of interest to leaders of some School Administrative Unit (SAU)s. Administrators may wish to consult with legal counsel regarding the procedures for establishing reserve funds for their school organizational structure.

School Administrative Units included in this act are School Administrative Districts (SADs), Regional School Units (RSUs), Community School Districts (CSDs), and Career and Technical Education (CTE) Regions.

Previously, School Administrative Units were able to establish a reserve fund for school construction projects and for financing the acquisition or reconstruction of a specific or type of capital improvement. This new legislation provides additional flexibility to create reserve funds for any of the following: regular education, special education, career and technical education, other instruction such as summer school and extracurricular activities, student and staff support, system administration, school administration, transportation and buses, facilities maintenance, debt service and other commitments; and all other expenditures including school lunch. The request for the reserve fund must be included in the district budget and have a description of the purpose for the reserve fund. The governing board is the trustee of the reserve fund, and in the cases of SADs, RSUs and CSDs, the fund must be deposited or invested by the treasurer as directed by the governing board.

Previously, Boards of Directors of any of these SAUs were able to expend money from reserve funds only if they were authorized to do so by a vote at a district budget meeting and an article for the purpose for the reserve fund had been in the warrant calling the meeting. However, this legislation now also provides the Boards of Directors with the ability to expend funds when the expenditure is required by law or in an emergency where the cost of a district vote is prohibitive. The governing board of the SAUs may expend the funds after providing public notice of a regular or special meeting, at which a vote to expend funds from the reserve fund will be taken. A public hearing must be held prior to the vote to expend funds from the reserve fund, and the vote must be recorded in the meeting minutes.

Step 1 – Reserve fund proposed in the budget for specific purpose is approved

Step 2 – Reserve fund set aside in SAD, RSU, CSD organizations

Step 3 – To expend the funds in the budget year, provide notice and:

  1. Hold a district meeting, OR
  2. Hold a regular or special meeting of the governing board with a public hearing, vote, and recorded vote.

For CTE regions, the cooperative board may expend the reserve fund if permitted by any indebtedness secured by the reserve fund and if approved in the region budget. A separate article for that purpose must be included in the budget proposal.

Please reference PL 2019 Chapter 588 for additional information.

Expanded Authority of Reserve Funds

Download a PDF of this graphic

 

PRIORITY NOTICE:  Unified Guidance Regarding Executive Orders and School Personnel:  All School Services and Employees are Essential

As our state and nation face unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 state of emergency, it is more critical than ever that Maine schools and school employees work together to provide the deeply needed services of continuity of education, communications, connectivity, payroll, other administrative activities, custodial services, transportation/deliveries,  and student nutrition. The Governor has directed SAUs to pay hourly employees for their previously contracted hours throughout the remainder of this school year, and this decision was predicated on the understanding that all school employees would continue to have important roles in limited, alternative, ongoing operations. The Department of Education has also stated that all school employees are essential.  The Priority Notice from the Dept of Education on 3/27/20 says: “All school employees are considered to be ‘essential’ under the Governor’s Executive Order #19 and should be expected to complete all duties and tasks assigned to them.”

On March 31st, Governor Mills instituted Executive Order 28 further restricting public contact and movement, schools, vehicle travel and retail business operations.  In addition, cities and towns are also putting new provisions in place, which restrict operations of non-essential businesses, new questions have arisen about the definition and what it means for public-school employees to be essential.

Although school employees are essential, their physical presence at school is not always necessary during this emergency, as there are many tasks and trainings that could be completed remotely.  In light of the Governor’s “Stay Healthy At Home” order at this critical juncture to flatten the curve, physical presence in schools should be restricted to a bare minimum in order to provide essential functions – such as providing educational and nutritional services to students, payroll, certain cleaning and maintenance staff, certain administrative assistant staff where communications cannot occur remotely, IT staff to support remote learning functions, transportation staff  – and only as long as social distancing and other CDC recommendations (including hand washing protocols) are being implemented. The fewest numbers of employees possible should be on premises, and only during the necessary time frame required for conducting such services. All functions that do not require in-person staff in schools should be done remotely.

It is possible that some hourly staff members will not have enough immediately purposeful work to do (either on site or remotely) to fill the contracted hours for which they are paid. In that case, these employees should be considered to be “on standby”, ready to assist as work does become available for them. Administrators and supervisors should determine when/if certain positions are needed to perform tasks.  While on standby, employees will continue to receive hourly wages as contracted prior to the COVID emergency.

Given the Governor’s most recent Executive Order, the Department of Education (DOE), Maine School Board Association/Maine School Superintendents Association (MSBA/MSSA), Maine Principals Association (MPA), Maine Education Association (MEA), Maine Administrators of Services for Children with Disabilities (MADSEC) and Maine Curriculum Leaders Association (MCLA), would like to clarify the roles and responsibilities of public-school employees during this time.

  • Employees who are able and assigned by supervisors to work remotely should continue to do so, and raise any concerns they may have with their local district leadership.  Administrators and staff are encouraged to collaborate and problem-solve to foster telework options during this crisis.

  •  School employees should continue to go to work if they  must be there to perform essential functions. CDC guidelines should be strictly followed including social distancing of at least 6 feet from all other people.  School employees working onsite should be kept to the bare minimum necessary to execute the functions that require their physical presence.

  • Employees  whose services are not immediately needed, as determined by supervisors, or whose work cannot be done remotely, should continue to receive their regular wages and should remain ready to perform tasks as they become necessary and assigned by supervisors.    Employees on standby leave should be ready to help schools meet their basic needs, and may be assigned to participate in a rotation of duties during this time.

  • Any  school employees who are sick, in a high risk group, or feel unsafe for any reason, should have access to their own sick leave, the new federal leave program, a district sick leave bank, if applicable, or any other paid leave that a district may be providing.

We can all take common sense steps to ensure that only staff whose physical presence is required  to provide services and who are engaged in immediately necessary services are in our schools, and that those who are in our schools are being protected by following the most current CDC guidelines for social distancing, cleaning, hand washing, and ventilation.

We so appreciate all the work being done to help students during these challenging times.  We know our public schools are wonderful places filled with amazing, hard-working and dedicated staff.  Please be sure to take care of each other during this crisis.