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

MEDIA RELEASE: 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 EMBRACE initiative which provides new opportunities for regionalization.

“Our goal is to provide more opportunities to students and increase their chances for achievement and success. We hope this funding opportunity will give districts the chance to get creative in thinking about new possibilities for students in their area,” said Maine Department of Education Commissioner, Robert G. Hasson, Jr.

$5 million in funding is available in 2017. An additional $5 million will be available in 2018– at this time a separate application will be available.

Important information about FEDES:

  • RFP # 201708145 – Fund for the Efficient Delivery of Educational Services can be downloaded from the Division of Purchases website.
  • An online/telephone Information Session will be held on September 26, 2017 at 3:00pm – connection details are listed in the RFP.

In addition to the FEDES grant, the Maine DOE is also offering other supports for districts who want to form a regional service center. Through a regional service center, districts can share a set of services and get direct funding from the State for the center.

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

For further questions contact Maine DOE Regionalization Project Manager, Jennifer Pooler Jennifer.G.Pooler@maine.gov.

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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.

$5 million in funding is available in 2017. An additional $5 million will be available in 2018– at this time a separate application will be available.

Important information about FEDES:

  • RFP # 201708145 – Fund for the Efficient Delivery of Educational Services can be downloaded from the Division of Purchases website.
  • An online/telephone Information Session will be held on September 26, 2017 at 3:00pm – connection details are listed in the RFP.

For further questions contact Maine DOE Regionalization Project Manager, Jennifer Pooler Jennifer.G.Pooler@maine.gov.

Opportunities for Regionalization

As part of Maine’s plan for putting students first, the Maine Department of Education is focused on improving educational services and increasing student achievement through innovative regional partnerships.

As a result of the passage of the biennial budget and the end of the 128th Legislative Session, new opportunities are now available to provide support for regional efforts that will improve opportunity and access for Maine students by economizing on and maximizing educational services.

The current and upcoming funding options for regionalization:

  • Fund for Efficient Delivery of Educational Services (FEDES) grant
  • Regional Service Centers (School Management and Leadership Centers)

Both funding options are explained in further detail in the EMBRACE Regionalization Information Center which can be found on the Maine Department of Education website.

Communications and updates about regionalization opportunities will be forthcoming through the DOE Newsroom and can be found on the EMBRACE Regionalization Info Center.

For further questions contact Maine DOE Regionalization Project Manager, Jennifer Pooler Jennifer.G.Pooler@maine.gov.

Important clarification for districts with public preschool and Head Start collaborations

Chapter 124: Basic Approval Standards for Public Preschool Programs is fully in effect as of July 1, 2017, and there is a need to clarify the roles and responsibilities of school nurses and Head Start health services staff in order to meet both Head Start program, and Maine Department of Education standards.

Specifically, public school nurses and teachers as well as Head Start health services staff must know that all of the health requirements for each party are being met while not duplicating services.

The Maine Department of Education has collaborated with State Head Start representatives and Child Development Services to create a sample Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for public schools that collaborate with Head Start to deliver 4-year old programs. The MOA outlines what is required for each program and allows partners on the local level to decide who is will be responsible.

This “Health Services Memorandum of Agreement” may be used as an addendum to the SAU/Head Start Memorandum of Understanding that is required in partnerships.

The Health Services MOA includes all the requirements of both Head Start and Chapter 124; Head Start is responsible for the additional federal requirements. However, it is important to note who will take responsibility for the overlapping requirements. It also outlines who will create the individual health plan, train in medication management as well as how information will be shared.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact one of the following:

Emily Poland, RN, School Nurse Consultant at emily.poland@maine.gov  or 207-624-6688, or Sue Reed, Early Childhood Specialist at susan.d.reed@maine.gov or 207-624-6632.

Reminder to send student IEPs to career and technical centers

As a reminder to all school administrative units, please send student records, including records pertaining to a student with a disability, to career and technical centers and to all schools which they are attending this year.

Sending the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) at the start of the school year will ensure that students with disabilities receive the instruction and related services on their IEPs and that teachers will have knowledge of those IEPs in accordance with the Maine Unified Special Education Regulations.

For more information please contact the Maine Department of Education, Office of Special Services at 624-6713.

Synergy training dates and registration for special education and CTE

The Maine DOE is offering Synergy training dates for Special Purpose Private Schools (SPPS) and Regional Programs, and for Career and Technical Education (CTE). Dates and registration information are provided below in two focused half day sessions.

In these sessions, participants will learn how to use Synergy DOE to upload student data required by the State of Maine. In addition, participants will learn how to use Synergy DOE to enter and validate student data that is not included in the upload process.

After completing this session, participants will understand how to perform uploads and will be able to:

* Log in to Synergy and navigate the interface
* Use and understand Synergy concepts and terminology
* Change Focus to view other years/schools
* Create personal Navigation Menus
* View existing student information
* Create upload for concurrent enrollments
* Create upload for program enrollments
* Find a single student or multiple students
* Enter and modify student data
* Upload Quarterly Attendance
* Upload Behavior Information
* Enter Truancy information
* Use a Matrix to print student information or export student information to other desktop programs
* Create student filters
* Create Graph information
* Preview and Print common reports
* Save report settings
* Make corrections/additions on existing records

In addition to the two dates, the session will shared via Zoom so attendants can log in.

***August 14 – For Special Purpose Private Schools (SPPS) and Regional Programs Only***

SPPS Registration

***August 16 – For Career and Technical Education Programs (CTE) Only***

CTE Registration

23 State House Station
Room 103
Augusta, Maine

8:30-12:00

 

If you have any questions please contact Shannon Bartash, Data Systems Helpdesk Manager for the Maine Department of Education at 207.624.6799 or Shannon.Bartash@maine.gov.

PRIORITY NOTICE: Guidance on usage of additional state funds from 2017-2018 budget

The Department has received several requests from school administrative units for guidance regarding the interpretation of PL 2017 Chapter 284, Section JJJJJJJ. The Department offers this guidance with the caveats that 1) Differing legal interpretations may be put forth and in those instances, we would recommend consulting your school unit’s legal counsel and 2) this guidance applies to the fiscal year 2017-2018 only; no analysis has yet begun regarding the application of this section of statute to fiscal year 2018-2019.

The Department offers guidance on the following scenarios for fiscal year 2017-2018:

Scenario 1: The school administrative unit has passed a budget through all applicable stages and the budget did not include a warrant article to provide the school board with authority to use any additional state funds received.  Under this scenario, Section JJJJJJJ-4 would apply and provide 50% of the increase in subsidy to reduce the school administrative unit’s required local contribution.  For combined school administrative units (RSU, SAD or CSD), the Department’s suggested distribution of the 50% subsidy increase, based on the statutory language, is posted at the link below.  For combined school units with a Private & Special Law that amends the required local share calculation under 20-A § 15688, the Department suggests utilizing the required local contribution percentages as calculated under that Private & Special Law.

http://www.maine.gov/education/data/eps/fy18/index.html

Scenario 2: The school administrative unit has passed a budget through all applicable stages and the budget did include a warrant article providing the school board with the authority to use any additional state funds received.  Under this scenario, Section JJJJJJJ-5 applies and the school administrative unit may utilize the increase in subsidy as permitted under the approved article.

Scenario 3: The school administrative unit has not passed a budget.  This school administrative unit would present budget calculations which reflect the required local share and state subsidy amounts as displayed on the ED 279 dated July 12, 2017.  Section JJJJJJJ-5 would not apply as tax relief is provided via the reduction of the required mill expectation in the enacted ED 279.

Should you have questions or need additional clarification, please contact tyler.backus@maine.gov paula.b.gravelle@maine.gov or joanne.allen@maine.gov

PRIORITY NOTICE: 2017-18 Enacted ED279 subsidy printouts now available

FY 2017-2018 ED 279 subsidy printouts, based on Public Law 2017 Ch. 284 are now available on the Department’s website: http://www.maine.gov/education/data/eps/epsmenu.htm

The 279 printouts reflect statutory changes to the funding formula as enacted by this legislation. (REMINDER: there will be a scheduled outage of the NEO system, where the 279s are available, from 7/13 – 7/17.)

A comparison of the State Contribution from the Not Yet Enacted Governor’s Recommended Funding Level to the Enacted Funding Level, is available at the following link: http://www.maine.gov/education/data/eps/fy18/index.html

As a reminder, Chapter 284, Part JJJJJJJ of the enacted budget bill contains language regarding required local action on the use of any increase in State subsidy. Please review this statutory language below and consult your school unit’s legal counsel should you need additional guidance. Please note that this section applies for both fiscal years 2017-18 and 2018-19.

Should you have questions regarding the subsidy printout, please contact the School Finance Team: tyler.backus@maine.gov; paula.b.gravelle@maine.gov; ida.batista@maine.gov

Public Law 2017 Ch. 284 PART JJJJJJJ

Sec. JJJJJJJ-4. 20-A MRSA §15690-A is enacted to read:

  • 15690-A. Local action on increase in state share percentage Notwithstanding section 1485, subsection 5, this section applies to school budgets adopted for fiscal years 2017-18 and 2018-19.
  1. Required reduction in local contribution. If the budget of a school administrative unit is based on assumptions that include an increase in state share, pursuant to section 15690, subsection 1, paragraph C, over the amount used in the most recent approved budget as the result of an increase in the state share of the school administrative unit’s total cost of funding public education from kindergarten to grade 12 under this chapter, the increase in state share must be used as follows.
  2. Fifty percent of the increase in state share pursuant to section 15690, subsection 1, paragraph C that is attributable to the increase in the state share over the state share amount used in the most recent approved budget must be used to lower the school administrative unit’s local contribution to the total cost of funding public education from kindergarten to grade 12.
  3. The remaining 50% may be used only to increase expenditures for school purposes in cost center categories approved by the local school board, increase the allocation of finances for a reserve fund or provide an additional amount to lower the required local contribution to the total cost of education.
  4. Warrant. If the budget of the school administrative unit is based on assumptions that include an increase in state share, pursuant to section 15690, subsection 1, paragraph C, over the amount used in the most recent approved budget as the result of an increase in the state share of the school administrative unit’s total cost of funding public education from kindergarten to grade 12 under this chapter, an article in substantially the form in paragraph A must be used to authorize the use of the increase in state share for the expenditures specified in subsection 1, paragraph B after the requirements of subsection 1, paragraph A are met.
  5. “Article…….: To see what sums will be appropriated for the following purposes from the amount of the anticipated increase in state share of the school administrative unit’s total cost of funding public education from kindergarten to grade 12 over the amount used in the most recent approved budget as the result of an increase in the state share of the school administrative unit’s total cost of funding public education from kindergarten to grade 12 under this chapter:

(1) (Amount appropriated) To increase expenditures for school purposes in cost center categories approved by the board (list of amounts by category should be provided);

(2) (Amount appropriated) To increase the allocation of finances in a reserve fund for the purpose of (name of reserve fund); and

(3) (Amount appropriated) To provide a decrease in the local contribution, as defined in the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 20-A, section 15690, subsection 1, paragraph A or B, section 15690, subsection 2 or section 15690, subsection 3 for local property taxpayers for funding public education.”

  1. If as a result of a vote on the article specified in paragraph A, subparagraph (3) a school administrative unit does not raise 100% of the required local contribution pursuant to section 15690, subsection 1, the school administrative unit may petition the commissioner to waive the required proration of the state share pursuant to section 15690, subsection 1, paragraph C.
  2. If the article is approved by the voters at the budget meeting, the board of the school administrative unit may increase expenditures for the purposes approved in the article without holding a special budget meeting and budget validation referendum.

Sec. JJJJJJJ-5. Permitted use of additional funding for 2017-18 school budget. Notwithstanding the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 20-A, section 15690-A, for school budgets for the 2017-18 fiscal year only, articles approved by the voters that earmarked additional state funding contributions for increased expenditures for school purposes in fiscal year 2017-18 are permitted as approved.