Extended Deadline: Funding Opportunity Notice for School Lighting Projects

To date, Efficiency Maine has received more than fifty applications for school lighting projects as part of this Funding Opportunity Notice. In fact, one project has already been completed.

Because of the level of interest, we have extended the deadline for a second time to allow more schools to apply — Efficiency Maine has extended the deadline for the School Lighting Funding Opportunity Notice to June 1, 2020. This decision has been made so that all parties involved will have more time to work through logistics and take part in these elevated incentives. Efficiency Maine does not oversee interactions between school personnel and the Qualified Partner; the program trusts that you will work with your contractor to determine how to handle site assessments and projects.

Efficiency Maine has extended the deadline for schools to apply through CIP FON-001-2020 for enhanced financial incentives to convert old, inefficient school lighting to LEDs.  Funding will be provided as an incentive of $0.30/kWh saved (first-year savings) capped at $100,000 per school district. Applications may be submitted through June 1, 2020.

To learn more about the Funding Opportunity Notice, please click 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

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Vine Street Elementary School Custodian Honored with A. Burleigh Oxton Award for Excellence

The Educational Plant Maintenance Association (EPMA) of Maine awarded the A. Burleigh Oxton Award to Head Custodian Christopher Whitney of the Vine Street Elementary School in Bangor recently.

On Tuesday, December 10, Andrew R Madura, Director of Facilities
SAD #61-Lake Region Schools and Dana Petersen, EPMA President and Manager of Facilities at York County Community College drove to Bangor to present the award to Chris at an assembly in the school’s gymnasium.

At 8 am, each of the individual classrooms began to file into the gym to participate in honoring Chris.  His Mother and a local NBC news reporter were also in attendance. One by one the classes rose and presented him with cards of appreciation, stories and one class even sang a song to their favorite custodian.

Chris is much more than a custodian to the school and community.  One particular story I came away with was from the school Principal, Lynne Silk who told the crowd that every Memorial Day Holiday on his day off, Chris and his son will get up early and go to every school in the district and ‘properly’ lower the flags to half-staff, paying honor and respect to all the men and women who have died defending this country.  He brings his son who sometimes brings a friend and thus teaches them how to respect the flags and our military personnel. – Dana Petersen

The pictured in the photo above are (left to right): Dr. Betsy Webb – Bangor Superintendent of Schools; Andy Madura, EPMA Chairman A. Burleigh Oxton Award Committee; Christopher Whitney, 2019 Award Recipient; Dana Petersen, EPMA President; Lynne Silk, Principal.

The event was truly emotional for everyone and I am glad to be a small part in the EPMA organization and this annual recognition award.

This story was submitted by Dana Petersen, EPMA President and  Manager of Facilities at York County Community College as part of the Maine Schools Sharing Success Campaign. To submit a story or an idea email Rachel Paling at rachel.paling@maine.gov.

School Construction List Receives Approval 

Three schools in critical need of renovation or replacement got the go-ahead to build new facilities or renovate existing ones last week from the State Board of Education, which approved a proposal from Maine Education Commissioner Pender Makin.  The three projects were considered because their total estimated costs, when added to existing debt, will be within the current debt service limit of $126,000,000. 

The Board approved the Maine Department of Education’s “Approved Projects List,” a key step in a school construction process that includes: evaluating needs, determining solutions, designing, and building.  The schools were at the top of the Final Priority List of 74 schools that applied for renovation or replacement, which was approved by the State Board in August of 2018. 

The three schools on the approved list are:  Fairfield Primary School (RSU 49/MSAD 49);  Skowhegan’s North Elementary School (RSU 54/MSAD 54);  and Rumford Elementary School (RSU 10). 

The Department would like to stress that the decision to begin work on the first three projects does not preclude additional projects from being approved later.  As the nature and anticipated costs of the first three projects becomes clearer over the ensuing months, the Department intends to then assess when, and if, additional projects on the Final Priority List can be approved to move forward. 

Information about the Department’s school construction program can be found at: http//www.maine.gov/doe/schools/facilities/mcscp. 

Mandatory Annual Notice of Integrated Pest Management Requirements

Encounters with rodents, hornets, bats, poisonous plants and other pests can threaten the health and safety of students, staff and visitors on school properties. However, pesticides can also pose a risk, and the use of these chemicals in Maine is strictly regulated.  All public and private schools serving any grades pre-k through 12 are required, under state law, to adopt and implement an integrated pest management (IPM) policy to reduce potential risks of exposure to pests and pesticides.

Specific requirements include:

Appointment of IPM Coordinator.  Appoint a staff member to serve as and annually report their name and contact information (e-mail address and phone number) by September 1st via the Department of Education NEO system. If unable to use NEO, report via email to pesticides@maine.gov or by calling 207-287-2731. This information is required to provide necessary educational information and training and ensure compliance with regulations.

Training. The IPM Coordinator must complete two trainings: 1) Initial Training Module must be completed within one month of appointment (available online at www.maine.gov/schoolipm  click on ‘Trainings and Events’) and 2) Comprehensive IPM Training Training must be completed within one year of appointment (free workshop offered in numerous locations throughout the year. See schedule at www.maine.gov/schoolipm). In addition, the IPM Coordinator must earn 1-hr of Continuing Education credit per year.

Notification, Signage and Authorization. A notice describing your school’s IPM program must be included in the school policy manual or student and staff handbooks.  Specific information is required.  A sample notice is available at www.maine.gov/schoolipm.  This information must be kept up to date, but an annual notice to parents and staff is no longer required. A notice about the schools’ IPM Policy must be published in your policy manuals, such as the student and staff handbooks. Before any pesticide application on school properties (including non-school properties used primarily for official school functions) the IPM Coordinator must authorize it. Parents and staff must be notified five days in advance and signs must be posted two days in advance. Some types of applications are exempted. More information and sample notices are available at maine.gov/schoolipm or by contacting the Maine Board of Pesticides Control at pesticides@maine.gov or 207-287-2731.

Licensing. A commercial Pesticide Applicators License is required for all pesticide applications except for the control of stinging insects and for routine use of disinfectants.

Record-Keeping.  A Pest Management Activity Log must be kept current and on file for at least two years. Specific records about IPM steps taken and pesticide use must be kept.  Sample logbook pages are available at maine.gov/schoolipm.

The School IPM Program, Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, is available to help with pest problem-solving advice, training resources and more (www.maine.gov/schoolipm, e-mail: kathy.murray@maine.gov, phone: 207-287-7616).  For more information contact the Maine Board of Pesticides Control (pesticides@maine.gov or 207-287-2731) or Pat Hinckley at the Department of Education (pat.hinckley@maine.gov, 207-624-6886).