Governor LePage Recognizes School District Collaboration To Benefit Students

Released on Wednesday, February 14, 2018

AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage has issued the following statement recognizing today’s State Board of Education vote to accept the scoring for the finalists for the Integrated, Consolidated 9–16 Educational Facility Pilot Project.

“Communities across Maine are demonstrating that when the state provides them with support and incentives, they will work together to create more opportunities for students in an efficient and effective way,” said Governor LePage. “I commend the local superintendents and school boards for putting the needs of their students first.”

The Governor added, “Enabling Maine students to benefit from regional and collaborative approaches to education is the right thing to do. When these projects are up and running, they will serve as a shining example of what is possible when our communities work together to benefit students.”

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) has implemented the Integrated, Consolidated 9–16 Educational Facility Pilot Project as part of the EMBRACE initiative, providing support and incentives to communities that work together to increase opportunities for students through regional partnerships that enable efficiency and take advantage of scale that the communities could not achieve on their own.

Most recently, Maine DOE announced grant awards of $4.6 million to school districts to pursue more than $10 million in savings through regional projects.

 

 

 

 

 

Notice of proposed rule change to Chapter 82 School Bus Driver Fitness Determination

The Maine Department of Education is proposing to repeal Chapter 82 School Bus Driver Fitness Determination.  Current motor vehicle laws provide substantial protections for public safety.  The repeal supports local school districts in the selection and hiring of school bus drivers.  This repeal affects bus drivers hired by public schools.

Written comments should be mailed to:  Maine Department of Education, Attn:  Jaci Holmes, 23 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0023, or emailed to jaci.holmes@maine.gov .  The comment deadline is March 16, 2018.

 

Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Education and Response Model Policy

The Maine Department of Education (DOE), as directed by Maine law Public Law 2015, Ch. 292 (LD 1180), An Act To Require Education in Public Preschool Programs and Elementary Schools Regarding Child Sexual Abuse, has developed a model policy for schools on child sexual abuse prevention education and response. The law (20-A MRSA §254, sub-§18) states that all school administrative units (SAUs) that operate schools with grades public preschool program through grade 5 shall adopt a written local policy for child sexual abuse prevention education and response that is consistent with the Maine DOE model policy located at www.maine.gov/doe/healthed/laws/ under Safety & Accident Prevention. The policy must include the following:

  • Child sexual abuse response and reporting procedures;
  • Child sexual abuse awareness training and prevention education for school personnel;
  • Age-appropriate child sexual abuse prevention education for students;
  • School response and reporting procedures for child sexual abuse; and
  • Resources a victim of child sexual abuse or nonoffending caregivers of a victim of child sexual abuse may access for services and support.

Pursuant to this statute, school administrative units (SAUs) are required to develop a policy beginning in the 2017-18 school year. However, given the late release of the model policy, SAUs are expected to develop the policy on or before the beginning of the 2018-19 school year.

The Maine DOE and the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MECASA) are available to provide technical assistance in the writing and implementation of this policy that is intended to educate preschool through grade 5 children, as well as school personnel, families and community members in the prevention of and response to child sexual abuse. A web-based resource and trainings to support the implementation of this law are being developed by the MECASA with support from the Maine DOE. The website is expected to be launched this spring.

For more information on the new requirements contact Susan Berry, Maine DOE’s Health Education and Health Promotion Coordinator, at susan.berry@maine.gov.

Upcoming Summit focused on local foods for schools, hospitals, colleges and more

Maine Farm to Institution and the Maine Farm to School Network will be hosting the 2018 Maine Farm to Institution Summit in Belfast’s UMaine Hutchinson Center on February 9, from 7:30 am to 5 pm. This all-day event for those interested in cultivating an equitable and resilient Maine food system is open to everyone.

MEFTI Steering Committee member and Summit lead organizer Riley Neugebauer said, “We’re excited about the range of presenters and the variety of topics that will be covered. Since there will be over 60 presenters at the event, we think that there will be something for everyone, from those who consider themselves beginners in the field, to those who understand or have participated in farm to institution efforts at an advanced level.”

Renee Page, involved in the leadership of both MEFTI and the Maine Farm to School Network (MFSN), and Assistant Director of Healthy Communities of the Capital Area, said that this is a new initiative for the organization; in previous years, the Maine Farm to School Network took the lead on facilitating similar conferences that focused solely on farm to school. In order to reflect a broader vision of farm to institution efforts across the state and to ease the financial/organizational burden on the volunteer-led farm to school network, MEFTI joined with MFSN to organize the upcoming Summit, and to expand the program and outreach into additional sectors such as healthcare, colleges & universities, and prisons.

At the Summit, the planning committee members will gather institutional food service staff, farmers, fishermen, distributors, government agency staff, nonprofits and others to inspire and energize the network through sharing best practices and innovative strategies; and to strengthen collective impact by engaging food producers, educators, decision makers, leaders, and policymakers in shared problem solving.

Page said, “We see the Summit as an opportunity to expand the ongoing conversation around the farm to institution vision and hope that it will forge stronger and more comprehensive relationships among stakeholders, as well as lead to statewide business partnerships and strategic policy change.”

Organizers anticipate that attendees will leave with new skills, new perspectives, new partnerships, the inspiration to set and achieve bolder goals for Maine’s food system, and a clear understanding of the need for and relevancy of farm to institution efforts in Maine.

The welcome and opening remarks for the event begin at 8:45 am, with the event closing at 5 pm. Registration is $40; to register, or for more information about the event, please visit www.mainefarmtoinstitution.org/registration. Organizers encourage attendees to register online before the event at this link, but will accept walk-in registrations as well. The UMaine Hutchinson Center is located at 80 Belmont Avenue (Route 3) in Belfast.

In case of inclement weather, a snow date is set for Monday, February 12th at the UMaine Hutchinson Center. To find out if the event has been postponed, information will be posted on the website www.mainefarmtoinstitution.org and on the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/events/534118093604257/.

Planning committee members would like to thank the following major sponsors of the event: Elmina B. Sewall Foundation, Maine Agriculture in the Classroom, Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, Sodexo, Healthy Communities of the Capital Area, MaineHealth, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation, Farm to Institution New England, and UMaine Cooperative Extension. Additional sponsors include: Maine Farmland Trust, Let’s Go!, HealthCare Without Harm, USM Food Studies Program, Gulf of Maine Research Institute, MOFGA, Lakeside Farms, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Fedco, Farm Fresh Connection, Heiwa Tofu, PFG Northcenter, Maine Farm and Sea Cooperative, Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine, Native Maine Produce & Specialty Foods, Healthy Acadia, Maine General Medical Center, Oakhurst Dairy, PJ Merrill Seafood, Crave Food Services, Maine Grains, Grandy Oats, Bates College Dining, VitaminSea, and The Maine Meal. Event partners include FoodCorps Maine, Maine School Garden Network, Maine Department of Education, and the Maine Network of Community Food Councils.

For further information contact Renee Page, Maine Farm to Institution/Maine Farm to School Network/Healthy Communities of the Capital Area, r.page@hccame.org (207-588-5347)

Maine Farm to Institution is a multi-sector network of people from across the state interested in increasing institutional purchasing of local foods.

 

FEMA opens nominations to recognize youth for their work in Emergency Preparedness

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will be opening up nominations nationwide for youth from grades 8 to 11 to join the National Youth Preparedness Council. Nominations will be opened for six week starting in late January, early February. If you know of youth involved in emergency preparedness work, who are part of Teen CERT, Medical Response Corps, or volunteer locally to help people with local emergencies, please let them know about this upcoming opportunity.

New England’s current youth council representative is from Connecticut and currently is serving her second term on this national council.

For more information about the National Youth Preparedness Council visit this website: https://www.ready.gov/youth-preparedness-council

For additional information please contact Sara Varela, Regional Preparedness Liaison, FEMA Region 1 (703) 713-8819 sara.varela@icf.com

 

PRIORITY NOTICE: Widespread Influenza in Maine

The following message has been provided by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Influenza activity in Maine is widespread with laboratory confirmed influenza reported in all counties. Influenza A/H3, and influenza B have been confirmed in Maine indicating both strains are circulating.  Maine CDC has followed up on 52 outbreaks of influenza as of Thursday January 25, 2018. Influenza vaccination is still strongly encouraged and is widely available, especially to protect those persons at risk of severe disease.  The vaccine appears to be a good match to three strains (A/H1, B/Yamagata, B/Victoria) this year, and it is not too late to get vaccinated.  Nationally, the majority of the circulating A/H3 strains are not a good match to the vaccine.  Maine specific data is not available at this time, but it is assumed to be similar to the national picture.  Vaccination is still recommended as it will protect against the other three strains, and it may offer cross protection and decrease the severity of illness.

What can Maine schools do to prevent and control influenza?

  • Report outbreaks: Report outbreaks of any illness, defined as student absenteeism rates >15%, immediately to Maine CDC.  Submit > 15% absenteeism reports through the Department of Education NEO Dashboard Absenteeism Reporting application (for more information, see http://maine.gov/education/sh/contents/AbsenteeReportingNEOSHM.3.2017.pdf).  Field epidemiologists are available to provide consultation on infection control.  Reports may also be called to 1-800-821-5821.
  • Promote health among students and staff: Encourage students, parents, teachers and staff to be aware of their health and to identify early if they have influenza-like illness (defined as fever of 100 degrees or greater, plus sore throat and/or cough).  Promote four steps to prevent flu: wash hands, cover cough, stay home if sick, and get vaccinated.   Individuals should stay home until 24 hours after fever resolves without the use of fever reducing medications.
  • Increase environmental cleaning: Frequently clean high touch surfaces, like door knobs, desks, and light switches – this helps break down the presence of the virus in the environment.
  • Review school policy on sickness and health: Review with staff your school policy on illness among students and staff.  Invite the school nurse or physician to speak at a staff meeting or school board meeting to promote prevention of influenza.  Consider steps the school will take in the event of continued elevated absenteeism.

Where can I find more information? 

PRIORITY NOTICE: 2018/19 subsidy printouts (ED279s) available with detailed explanation of funding changes

The fiscal year 2018-2019 ED 279 subsidy printouts are now available: http://www.maine.gov/doe/eps/

The subsidy printouts are provided based on $1.1 billion in funding allocated to education in the 2018/19 Biennial Budget that was enacted by the Maine State Legislature. See the trend in education funding from 2011 – 2019.

As a reminder, a number of EPS funding formula changes were also enacted as part of the budget. Many of these changes were made to both increase funds to education and to target more funds toward classroom expenditures. Provided below is a detailed list of the changes along with other important factors that impact EPS funding formula calculations.

Funding changes enacted in the budget:

  • Essential Programs and Services (EPS) Operating Transition Percentage – What is recognized as essential programs and services has increased from 97% to 100% due to a repeal of the EPS transition percentage. This means that the formula now recognizes 100% total cost allocation as calculated by the formula for each district. The 3% increase has resulted in over $42 million increased funding for education.
  • Funds for Special Education – There were several changes enacted that resulted in more funding to special education students. These changes have resulted in an increase of $30 million in funding for special education:
    • The weight for special education students increased from 1.27 per student to 1.50 per student. This change provides more funding to districts with higher number of special education students.
    • The Special Education Adjustment made for minimum receivers has increased from 33% to 40%.
    • Incentives are provided to public schools that place special education students in regional special purpose schools closer to home versus placing students in private schools further away.
    • The Special Education Budgetary Hardship Fund is now available for districts to apply for additional special education funding when they receive high cost special education student/s during the current school year, rather than wait for the coming year to receive extra funding.
  • Career & Technical Education (CTE) – Allocation for Career and Technical Education (CTE) is now based on a program-driven cost model, which bases the calculation of state subsidy on the following components: direct instruction, central administration, supplies, operation and maintenance of plant, other student and staff support, and student enrollment. As part of this model, State subsidy payments will be made directly to Career and Technical Education Centers and Regions and replaces both state and local share for the costs included in the model. Going forward, assessments will only be necessary for costs outside/above the model, such as new equipment or costs not covered by the model. FY19 CTE Centers & Regions Summary Estimate Funding Levels.
  • Additional Public Preschool funding – An additional $10 million in funding has been specifically allocated toward new and expanded public preschool programs.
  • Town valuation – Each town’s valuation is provided by the Maine Revenue Service each year and is part of the calculation that determines the town’s ability to pay local share. Previously the amounts used were determined based on the average valuation of the previous 3 years for each town. This coming fiscal year they will be based on an average of the previous 2 years. This change has created an increased “ability to pay” for some towns resulting in a higher required local share.
  • Student-to-Teacher ratio for New Early Childhood programs –  The student to teacher ratio for programs for 4-year-old through kindergarten has changed from 17 – 1 to 15 – 1. This change has resulted in an $8 million increase in funding.
  • Funding for System Administration – Allocation for system administration has gone from a rate of $135 per pupil in FY18 to $92 per pupil in FY19. Districts pursuing a Regional Service Center as part of Chapter 123 were allotted an additional $46 per pupil, pending approval of round II applications.
  • Basic pupil count – The pupil count used in EPS calculations is based on an average of the previous two year’s October pupil counts (reported by each district). Previously, it was based on the average of the most recent October and April counts.
  • State share percentage has grown – The average State share percentage has grown to 53.02%. The previous year was 52.02%.

Other important factors that impact EPS calculations:

  • Mil Rate – The Mil Rate, which is used as part of the calculation that determines each towns ability to pay required local share is 8.51. Previously the Mil Rate was 8.19.
  • Student enrollment – A dramatic increase or decrease in student enrollment has a major impact on funding because the EPS funding formula’s major driver is student population.
  • Changes in debt service payments – Districts that have either paid off or begun to pay principal or interest payments for equipment (new school, new bus, etc.), that the State has allocated funds to pay those payments could see dramatic changes in calculations if either payments no longer need to be made or if payments have begun.

Further information about FY 19 EPS can be found on the Maine DOE website.

Districts that have questions regarding subsidy printouts can contact the School Finance Team: Tyler Backus at tyler.backus@maine.gov; Paula Gravelle at paula.b.gravelle@maine.gov; or Ida Batista at ida.batista@maine.gov.

Media that have questions about school funding should contact Director of Communications, Rachel Paling at rachel.paling@maine.gov or (207)624-6747