Category Archives: Operations

Notice of proposed rule changes to Chapter 81: Uniform School Bus Standards for Pupil Transportation in Maine

The Maine Department of Education is proposing to repeal and replace Chapter 81: Uniform School Bus Standards for Pupil Transportation in Maine in order to modernize the rule.

The proposal involves four major changes:

  1. Change the format of the rule to separate the rule into shorter and cleaner regulations.
  2. Remove forms from the rule making it easier to adapt to national changes and align with the federal medical examination regulations.
  3. Update the bus specifications to meet current bus technology, standards, and specifications.
  4. Clarify safety, training, and program language to make the rule easier to interpret.

Proposed language of rule Chapters 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, and 86 can be found on the Department’s website. Written comments should be mailed to: Maine Department of Education, Attn: Pat Hinckley, 23 State House Station, Augusta, ME  04333-0023, or emailed to pat.hinckley@maine.gov. The comment deadline is Friday, Jun. 16, 2017 at 5:00 p.m.

Changes to School and District IDs for 2017-18 school year

Since 2004, the Maine Department of Education has issued school and school administrative unit (SAU) IDs generated by the Maine Education Data Management System (MEDMS). The MEDMS system is being decommissioned and will no longer be used to generate or maintain these codes. School and SAU information is now maintained in the NEO Maine Schools module, which has its own set of IDs known as Organization (Org) IDs. Starting with the 2017-18 school year, schools and SAUs will need to use the NEO Org IDs for their schools and districts when communicating data to the Maine DOE. This includes uploading data to the new student information system (Synergy).

The Department will be communicating these ID changes to all student information systems (SIS) vendors that are on file as operating in Maine. Please ensure that your SIS vendor information is up to date in the NEO Maine Schools module so we will communicate with your vendor.

Crosswalks from the old MEDMS codes to the new NEO Org IDs are located on the Department’s Infrastructure website.

If you have any questions about these code changes, please contact Maine DOE’s Education Data Manager Charlotte Ellis at charlotte.ellis@maine.gov or 624-6696.

Yarmouth takes grand prize in Farm to School Cook-off

Whole grain crepes, a wild blueberry kelp smoothie, granola encrusted French toast and fish tacos were featured on the menu as the top two teams of school food service staff faced off at Freeport High School on April 26. This was the final round of the 2nd Annual Maine Farm to School Cook-off, sponsored by the Maine Department of Education, Child Nutrition department. The cook-off aims to promote local products in school meals while showcasing the skills of school food service staff.

Pictured L to R: Stephanie Stambach (Maine DOE), Nikki Dovoren, Blaire Currier (Yarmouth School Department Food Service)

Each team prepared a breakfast and lunch meal that was presented to a panel of judges including a culinary arts student, chef and school nutrition director. The judges scored the dishes based on presentation, taste, creativity and food cost, as well as food safety and time management.

For breakfast, Yarmouth whipped up whole grain crepes with a strawberry topping and Maine maple syrup. This was paired with a wild blueberry kelp smoothie. The judges were impressed by the flavor and texture of the smoothie and commended the team for introducing a less common food to students in an appealing way. RSU 52 created a granola encrusted French toast and wild blueberry compote paired with a strawberry smoothie. Each team was tasked to incorporate wild Maine blueberries as a challenge ingredient in their breakfast dishes.

For lunch, Mexican fare was featured by both teams. RSU 52 cooked up chicken quesadillas with a fresh fruit salsa and grilled potatozana. Yarmouth prepared fish tacos using Gulf of Maine fish with a side of roasted potatoes and apple salsa. The judges commended the teams for a creative twist on a traditional salsa. Maine potatoes were used as the challenge ingredient for lunch.

Congratulations to Yarmouth who took the grand prize and was named the 2017 Maine Farm to School Cook-off Champion! All recipes from the cook-off will be shared in a Maine farm to school cook-off recipe book to be compiled this summer.

For information on how you can be part of next year’s Farm to School cook-off, contact Maine DOE’s  Child Nutrition Consultant Stephanie Stambach at Stephanie.stambach@maine.gov.

Important Title VI Small Rural Schools Achievement (SRSA) program update

The US Department of Education will be sponsoring a series of webinars now through June 28 to assist eligible Title VI SRSA districts with the online application process. The webinars will provide a walk-through designed to take applicants from the start to the finish. An information sheet, including dates, times and links for registration can be found here. Register early as space is limited to 350 seats for each webinar session. For questions, please contact Maine DOE’s Title VI Director Daniel Weeks at Daniel.r.weeks@maine.gov or 624-6749.

 

Changes to school grade configurations

School administrative units that plan to make significant school grade configuration changes must notify the Maine Department of Education of these changes by the June 15 prior to the start of the school year in which they will take effect. For example, school grade configuration changes that will take effect for the 2017-18 school year must be communicated to the Department by June 15, 2017 using the Maine Schools module of NEO. Users must have a NEO login and access to the Maine Schools module to fill out this information.

https://neo.maine.gov/doe/neo/maineschools

The reason for this notice is to ensure that the Department has the necessary lead time to analyze the grade changes and to make the determination as to whether the school population changes are significant enough to warrant the creation of a new school ID for reporting purposes. If deemed necessary, the new school ID will need to be communicated to vendors and the USDOE by the start of the school year on July 1.

If local school boards have not approved school grade configuration changes by the June 15 deadline, please contact Shannon Bartash directly to discuss the proposed changes at 207.624.6799 or Shannon.Bartash@maine.gov.

U.S. Department of Education New Title V Application Process and Funding

This message is for school administrative units that have received funding under the following grants under Rural Education Assistance Programs (REAP) including the Small, Rural School Achievement (SRSA) or Rural and Low Income Schools (RLIS). If your district has not received funds from these programs in the past, you may disregard this notice.

On April 3, the U.S. Department of Education sent a letter to local education agencies regarding the Rural Education Assistance Program (REAP) administered under Title VI of the Elementary Secondary Education Act. The U.S. Department of Education Letter outlines new provisions resulting from the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in December, 2015 and contains information regarding 2017 eligibility.  Please note the following important notes regarding SRSA grants.

  • Districts eligible for SRSA Funds must submit an application directly to www.grants.gov
  • The application window opens early May and will remain open for 60 days.
  • If no application is received and the district is NOT dually eligible for RLIS then no Title VI funds will be awarded to the district
    • If a district is dually eligible and no application is received then they will be considered for the RLIS grant automatically

For questions regarding the Rural Education Assistance Program and available grants, contact Daniel Weeks at Daniel.r.weeks@maine.gov or 207-624-6749.

Maine Schools Update: Required Reporting Open 5/1 – 6/15

The NEO Maine Schools Update form is required by all public school units and private schools to inform the Maine Department of Education of school and district contact information, changes in grade spans, and other SAU and school related information.

Changes:

  • Report will open May 1 and close June 15
  • Update any information for the District. All fields with the exception of Administrative Office Fax are required. PO Boxes will not be accepted in the “Physical Address” box. Mailing address is needed only if different from Physical address. Check the box to confirm that all SAU information has been reviewed before moving on to individual schools information.
  • The Cost Center information that has been added to Maine Schools references the three digit code that the business office uses in the financial system to assign building level costs. Each building will have at least one Cost Center, but may have two codes if the building has a combination of PreK-8 grade students and 9-12 grade students. PreK-8 grade will have a range of 010 through 290, and 9-12 grades will have a code in the range of 300 through 380. CTE Centers will have a Cost Center of 390. If school districts operate an alternative education program where they need to enter the building those will use a cost center in the range of 500 through 590. The cost center report can be downloaded here: http://www.maine.gov/education/data/handbook/codereport.htm
  • Student information system – enter the system you use to upload data to the state.  **This is important ** we need your correct SIS vendor information for training and communication with the vendor**
  • If a school offers All-day K or Alternative Education, please indicate.

To log in:  https://neo.maine.gov/DOE/neo

Click on Maine Schools (if you do not see this option on your menu, and are a superintendent, technical coordinator, or administrative assistant, please contact the MEDMS Helpdesk at MEDMS.Helpdesk@maine.gov or 207-624-6896.

Maine DOE Reporting Calendar replaced by new Data, Collections & Reporting (DC&R) System

As a reminder, as of April 1st the Maine Department of Education has officially replaced the Maine DOE Reporting Calendar with the Data, Collections & Reporting (DC&R) DC&R calendar in NEO.  This module will be a one-stop shop for all organizations to go to see what report is required and when, and to get the most up to date version of a form.

Maine DOE Staff have been submitting reports to be loaded to the module with information on when the report is due, instructions and links for completing the reports, as well as contact information from within the Department.  Districts and the public can now see reports that are due and past due, if applicable.  There is an indicator as to whether or not submitting the report has an impact on funding as well as a tab for “As Needed” reports, such as IEP forms, etc. where districts can have access to the most up to date forms they need in one place.  The Helpdesk is currently in process of loading all Department reports.  Going forward, Districts will only be required to complete reports that are in DC&R.

 For more information contact the Data Systems Helpdesk at (207) 624-6896 or medms.helpdesk@maine.gov.

PRIORITY NOTICE: MaineCare Seed payment adjustments to be made, review reports by April 12, 2017

The 2016-17 subsidy checks for General Purpose Aid for local schools will reflect adjustments in April 2017 for MaineCare Seed payments paid by the Maine DOE on behalf of school administrative units (SAUs) for the following:

  • 2017 Quarter 2 MaineCare payment adjustments

Detailed student reports for Quarter 2 are now available in Infinite Campus (State Edition). Instructions for accessing MaineCare Seed Payment Reports in Infinite Campus are available here.

In April, the 2016-17 State subsidy printouts (ED279s) will be updated reflecting these adjustments and are available at www.maine.gov/doe/eps/.

Reporting issues: To ensure accurate adjustments to subsidy, SAU staff must review student-by-student reports for Quarter 2 and report any issues on these reports no later than April 12, 2017. Any questions regarding these reports should be addressed to denise.towers@maine.gov.

If you disagree that a particular student or time period should be on the report, please provide the reason that you disagree along with supporting evidence and also include the following:

  • Identify the type of report (Public or Private) and the quarter in which the claims are located
  • Student’s State Student ID
  • Service provided dates (to and from)
  • Total amount of Seed being disputed

Summer services: The Department has found that a number of students are provided services during the summer. If the student was a resident of your SAU during those months, your SAU is still fiscally responsible for the MaineCare Seed as this is considered an extended school year for these students. Students in extended school years must be enrolled during these periods to ensure accurate adjustments.

For more information on MaineCare Seed payments including links to prior communications, accounting instructions and instructions for accessing MaineCare Seed Payment Reports in Infinite Campus, please click here. For more information or technical assistance related to MaineCare Seed, please contact Denise Towers at Denise.towers@maine.gov.

Maine DOE kicks off 2nd Annual Farm to School Cook-off

The Maine Department of Education is holding its 2nd annual Maine Farm to School Cook-off this month. The cook-off showcases the skills of local school food service staff, while promoting locally grown products in school meals.

School food service teams representing Falmouth, Yarmouth, RSU 14 – Windham/Raymond, Lewiston, RSU 52 – Turner, and RSU 54 – Skowhegan, will be participating in the event this year.

Last year’s participants were from Lewiston Public Schools, RSU 38 – Maranacook, Portland Public Schools, and RSU 61 – Lakes Region Schools, with the winning team from Five Town CSD/MSAD 28 & RSU 13 –Rockport, Camden, Rockland and surrounding towns.

For the competition, each team must prepare a breakfast and lunch meal within a specific time frame using at least two ingredients that are grown, raised, caught, or manufactured in the State of Maine and meet National School Breakfast and Lunch Program requirements as well as one USDA food. As an added twist Maine wild blueberries and Maine potatoes will be used as “challenge” ingredients in the competition. All recipes will later be shared in a Maine farm to school cook-off recipe book.

This year, the regional cook-offs will be held on the March 27 at the Westbrook Regional Vocational Center and on March 31 at the Capital Area Technical Center in Augusta.

The final cook-off on April 26th will be held at the Freeport High School’s newly renovated kitchen and dining area.

Westbrook and Augusta CTE centers are returning hosts for the cook-off, while Freeport High School joins in for the first time. The locations were chosen as cook-off sites for their well-equipped kitchens and cooking and presentation areas.

A panel of judges for the two regional cook-offs will consist of a CTE culinary arts student, school nutrition director, and professional chef. The dishes will be scored based on presentation, taste, creativity, and feasibility to be used in a school breakfast or lunch program. Other criteria will include food safety and time management.

Judges for the final event will include a Freeport High School student, a school nutrition director and a professional chef. The winning team will be awarded a plaque and have the opportunity to be spokespeople for the second annual cook off in 2018.

The cook-off is part of the State’s child nutrition projects and follows legislation to support healthy meals in schools. For more information on Maine’s Local Foods to Local Schools program, visit www.maine.gov/doe/nutrition/programs/localfoods/.

Members of the media are welcome to attend any the events. We ask that you confirm you are coming ahead of time by contacting Rachel Paling at rachel.paling@maine.gov or call 624-6747.