Education Commissioner Pender Makin Kicks Off Annual Read to ME Challenge by Reading to Sanford Pre-K Students 

Maine Education Commissioner Pender Makin kicked off the state’s Read to ME Challenge at Sanford Regional Technical Center by reading If Only… to a group of spirited pre-k students. This is the eighth year that the Maine Department of Education is collaborating with schools, parents and communities on this month-long public awareness campaign to promote the importance of literacy for all of Maine’s students, regardless of age. You can watch video of Makin kicking off the challenge here.

The Read to ME Challenge encourages adults to read to children for 15 minutes, capture that moment via a photo or a video, and then post it to social media and challenge others to do the same using the hashtag #ReadtoME.

Makin also spent time talking with students who are part of Sanford Regional Technical Center’s early childhood education program. Students in the program split their time between their own classroom and interacting with children in the pre-k classroom. Sanford was also able to expand to full day pre-k this year after receiving a grant through the Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan.

“The Read to ME Challenge is about creating a love of reading with children and promoting literacy across our state—and it’s fun,” said Maine Education Commissioner Pender Makin. “Not only did I get to read to an amazing group of pre-k students today, but I had the wonderful opportunity to talk with high school students who are working hard to become future educators through this amazing early childhood education program at Sanford Regional Technical Center.”

The simple act of reading aloud to a child 15 minutes a day for five years results in 27,375 minutes of language exposure, which can put children on the path to high literacy achievement and helps them build knowledge and vocabulary. Research demonstrates a number of benefits to reading to children, from birth through their childhoods and even teenage years, including modeling reading as an enjoyable lifelong activity, stimulating brain development, reducing stress and anxiety, building knowledge of the world, and helping develop the skills necessary to succeed in their lives.

Schools and community organizations can find a toolkit and resources on the Department of Education website and the Department will be sharing videos, photos, and updates from the challenge all month long on social media.

Participants in the challenge are reminded to use the hashtag #ReadtoME and to tag the Maine DOE at @mdoenews on Twitter, @MaineDepartmentofEducation1 on Facebook, and @mainedepted on Instagram.

See who Commissioner Makin Challenged!

Assisting Students in Preparing for Career Opportunities  

This guidance is offered by the Maine Department of Education to clarify the requirement listed in  Sec. 1. 20-A MRSA §4713 and §4730 as it pertains to providing access to the public website of the Maine Department of Labor’s Center for Workforce Research and Information (CWRI) containing statewide employment projections. All Maine middle and high schools are required to include the electronic link to the CWRI employment projections when providing career education programming and guidance for students and parents. 

CWRI Student Dashboard  

The Department recognizes that students may choose to enter the workforce in different ways and strives to provide guidance to help students navigate their postsecondary plans. To this end, the Department of Labor and the Department of Education have launched a student career discovery dashboard that presents the regional and statewide employment projections in an age-appropriate manner for students in grades 6-12. Examples of information presented on the student dashboard include information on annual openings by occupations in career clusters, the typical education requirements by occupation, and annual median wages of occupations. Accompanying the dashboard are an instructional video with tips on navigating the dashboard and a Maine Labor Market Information for Students slide deck. These student-friendly resources have been designed to complement existing online resources (e.g., career videos) and to expose students to career choices that align with their aspirations, interests, and aptitudes.  

Maine Learning Results 

The 2020 Maine Learning Results Life and Career Ready standards were updated to support the development of key career readiness elements and career awareness expectations for students in grades K-5 and career exploration and planning expectations for students in grades 6-12.  

Additional Resources 

Department of Labor Center for Workforce Research and Information 

Department of Education Maine Learning Results – Life and Career Ready Resources  

Life-Career Rainbow 

Governor Mills’ Budget Includes Major Investments in Maine Schools, Students, and Educators

Yesterday, Governor Mills released her administration’s budget proposal for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2024-2025 biennium. The proposal includes major investments in Maine’s schools, students, and educators and builds on the historic progress made on education investment throughout her administration.

“Governor Mills has made Maine’s public schools, students, and educators a top priority. She raised minimum teacher pay and covered those additional costs to support local communities. She is also the only Governor who fulfilled the State’s obligation to fund 55 percent of the cost of education,” said Pender Makin, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Education. “From supporting nutritious meals for all students to investing in innovative educational opportunities, this administration has made bold, historic investments in education and this budget builds on that extraordinary progress.”

Education Proposals in Governor Mills’ Budget:

  • Maintaining 55 Percent Education Funding: $101 million to continue meeting the State’s obligation to pay 55 percent of local education costs.
  • Funding Free School Meals: $58 million to fully fund universal free meals for students in public schools and for publicly funded students in approved private schools.
  • Expanding Pre-K: $10.5 million to make pre-kindergarten more available and more accessible across Maine.
  • Strengthening Child Care: $7.8 million to fully fund the salary supplements for child care workers enacted in the FY 2022 supplemental budget, ensuring that caregivers of young children continue to receive increased pay for their vital work helping Maine children develop and thrive.
  • Continuing Free Community College: $15 million to continue providing up to two years of free community college for all students from the high school graduating classes of 2024 and 2025.
  • Supporting Higher Education: $41 million to support a 4.5 increase for Maine’s public higher education institutions, including the University of Maine System, the Maine Community College System, and Maine Maritime Academy.
  • Improving Higher Education Affordability: $10 million to increase the Maine State Grant Program’s maximum award from $2,500 to $3,000. The Maine State Grant Program provides need-based grants to Maine undergraduate students to help with the cost of higher education. If approved by the Legislature, Governor Mills will have tripled the Maine State Grant Program from $1,000 to $3,000 during her time in office.

Educators and Education Leaders Praise Governor Mills’ Education Investments:

“MEA is glad to see the continuation of the full 55% state funding for public schools in the Governor’s budget. The other supports for students and public education in the budget—universal school meals, support for higher education, increased accessibility of pre-K—are all important to the success of Maine’s students and demonstrate the Governor’s commitment to public education and educators,” said Grace Leavitt, President of Maine Education Association.

“With this budget, Governor Mills continues to deliver on her promise to invest in our schools, educators, and students. Maine’s superintendents welcome the Governor’s efforts to ensure the state continues to meet its obligation to pay 55 percent of education funding and provide universal meals to our students,” said Eileen King, Executive Director of Maine School Superintendents Association. “This budget also makes critical investments in programs such as pre-k that will have both immediate and long-term benefits for our students and communities.”

“The Governor has been true to her word since she was elected in her support of public education, the teachers in the classroom, and the students we serve by proposing funding that includes maintaining the state’s obligation to fund public education at 55%, providing $58 million for universal free meals in public schools and approved private schools and expanding support for pre-kindergarten programs,” said Steven Bailey, Executive Director of Maine School Boards Association.

“Educate Maine once again applauds Governor Mills for her focus on strengthening education in our state, at all levels, and building pathways between strong schools and a vibrant Maine workforce. The sustained commitment to maintaining 55% state education funding, universal free meals for students, and salary supplements for child care workers are essential to the success of our learners,” said Dr. Jason Judd, Executive Director of Educate Maine. “Strong investments in higher education are necessary for Maine to meet our education attainment goal of 60% by 2025 in order to meet the needs of our economy. Free community college, much needed additional funding for public higher education, and the increase in the Maine State Grant Program make a bold statement that Maine is serious about providing opportunities for people to reach their highest academic and economic potential. We should be proud that, as a state, we are focusing our resources to ensure more equitable and inclusive outcomes for communities across Maine.”

“Investing in the educators who provide care and education for Maine’s youngest children is foundational to building a strong early childhood education system,” said Tara Williams, Executive Director of the Maine Association for the Education of Young Children. “We thank Governor Mills for her commitment to continue to fund educator salary supplements and invest in this crucial workforce behind the workforce.”

“We are pleased that the Governor’s budget continues to highlight the importance of investing in systems and services that support the well-being of Maine children and families,” said Stephanie Eglinton, Executive Director of the Maine Children’s Alliance. “Wage supplements for early educators, expanded public pre-school, maintaining the state’s share of public school funding, and universal free school meals help ensure that young children have a strong foundation for learning and healthy development. For families challenged with behavioral health needs or substance use disorder, ensuring supportive services are available and accessible is critical to child safety and family well-being.”

“The affordable, high-quality postsecondary education and workforce training provided by Maine’s public universities is the most effective path to social mobility for Mainers and economic prosperity for our state,” said University of Maine System Chancellor Dannel Malloy. “In direct response to the needs of Maine’s people and employers, the 130th Legislature and Gov. Mills made historic investments in public education, especially from pre-kindergarten to community college. I applaud Gov. Mills for the measured budget she released today that builds on those investments and further strengthens pathways to college and great-paying Maine careers. If supported by the Legislature, these additional appropriations will enable UMS to sustain our universities where they are while making strategic investments for the future, meet our obligations to fairly compensate our world-class faculty and staff, and maintain Maine’s national leadership in access and affordability while improving student enrollment and success.”

“Small businesses account for more than 99% of private enterprise in the state and employ more than half of all working Mainers. Many lack their own research and development capacity and, thus, uniquely rely on the expertise and facilities of our public universities to develop the talent, technology, and new and improved products and processes they need to be competitive in an increasingly global marketplace,” said Joan Ferrini-Mundy, who serves as president of the University of Maine and the vice chancellor for research and innovation for the University of Maine System. “Consistent with long-standing calls from the private sector to increase Maine’s economic competitiveness by boldly increasing public investment in public university R&D, the additional appropriations for MEIF proposed by Gov. Mills will allow our universities to better prepare our graduates to be leaders and innovators in the Maine workforce for today and tomorrow, and help Maine companies grow and create more Maine jobs, all while sustaining the state’s abundant natural resources and special quality of life.”

“We’re very grateful Governor Mills supports funding the Free College scholarship at Maine’s community colleges for another two years. Free community college lets students start their lives off right, with a degree or certificate in hand that prepares them for good-paying jobs in dozens of Maine industries or transfer to a four-year college,” said Maine Community College System President David Daigler. “This is the sort of smart state investment in Maine’s young people that provides tremendous benefits to our local communities and the state’s economy.”

“On behalf of thousands of Maine Maritime Academy alumni and supporters throughout the state, we thank Governor Mills for a proposed budget that helps us build toward the future,” said Jerry Paul, President of Maine Maritime Academy. “Her step forward on critical budget needs allows us to continue our ranking as the ‘#1 College in America for Return on Investment for low income students’ as we provide a world-class education and position ourselves as a leader for maritime industry innovation and workforce development, contributing to Maine’s place in a global economy.”

RFA Open for Maine Outdoor Learning Initiative 2023: Coastal Science & Marine Trades 

The State of Maine’s Department of Education is seeking applications to provide funding for a 2nd year of the Maine Outdoor Learning Initiative. The Maine Outdoor Learning Initiative is a statewide effort to increase access to hands-on outdoor learning experiences for Maine students. Through this application process, the Department, will provide funding to Maine nonprofit organizations specializing in coastal exploration, ocean ecology, marine science, and marine career experiences/programming for Maine youth.  

Funding must be used for programs providing authentic, hands-on interdisciplinary marine/coastal experiences opportunities for middle and high school students during summer 2023 and help students recover from the disruptions caused by COVID-19. Innovative design processes, leadership opportunities, and career exploration/development are strongly encouraged as part of the programming. Funding should provide access to students who have/have had limited access to marine/coastal science experiences due to geographic, financial, demographic, or other barriers. 

To be eligible to apply, programs must be offered to Maine students grades 6-12 at no cost to the student or their family, be provided in nature-based, marine science/ecology settings within the state of Maine, occur outside as much as safely feasible, and include transportation to and from program site(s) at no cost to students and families. 

The Department anticipates making five to ten awards as a result of this RFA process and may include partial grants. The total estimated grant funds available are $1,000,000, with individual grants not exceeding $100,000. The number and size of awards will depend on the number of proposals received, available funds, number of youth served, and opportunities provided. The Department reserves the right to eliminate the lowest scoring application(s) and/or make awards for amounts less than that requested, whichever is in the best interest of the State. 

A copy of the RFA, as well as the Question & Answer Summary and all amendments related to the RFA, can be obtained at: Grant RFPs and RFAs webpage 

Any questions must be submitted by e-mail to the Grant Coordinator identified on the Grant RFPs and RFAs webpage by 01/27/23 at 11:59 p.m. local time.  Submitted Questions must include the subject line: “RFA# 202212207 Questions”.  The Department assumes no liability for assuring accurate/complete/on time e-mail transmission and receipt. 

Applications must be received by 02/17/23, at 11:59 p.m. local time and are to be submitted via email to the State of Maine Division of Procurement Services, Applicants are to insert the following into the subject line of their email submission: “RFA# 202212207 Application Submission – [Applicant’s Name]”.  

State of Maine 

Department of Education 

RFA# 202212207 

Maine Outdoor Learning Initiative 2023: Coastal Science & Marine Trades 

Resources to Prevent Opioid Overdose in Maine Schools

As directed by the 130th Maine legislature the Department of Education created and collected guidelines and resources for schools who choose to stock emergency medication for a suspected opioid overdose on school grounds.  Naloxone is used in opioid overdoses to counteract life-threatening depression of the central nervous system and respiratory system, allowing an overdose victim to breathe normally. Naloxone is a nonscheduled (i.e., non-addictive), prescription medication. Naloxone only works if a person has opioids in their system; the medication has no effect if opioids are absent. It can be administered by trained persons, which makes it ideal for treating a person experiencing an apparent opioid overdose during school or a school-sponsored activity or otherwise on school grounds. The Rule for Medication Administration in Schools [05-071, Ch. 40, Section 6 (last revised 5/11/2022)], outlines the requirements if a school administrative unit plans to stock naloxone. However, schools must consider including naloxone as only one strategy in combatting substance use disorder.

The Substance Use Among Young Adults Summary in Maine was recently released by Maine CDC and reported that in 2020, nearly one in three young adult Mainers qualified as having a substance use disorder: ranking Maine 3rd in the nation. Research suggests that the area of the brain responsible for decision-making does not fully mature until 25 years of age, making this population more vulnerable to risky and harmful behaviors. Now more than ever we must focus on upstream primary prevention efforts before negative health outcomes occur. Prevention programs within schools can be part of comprehensive health education and social-emotional learning.

Health education can assist students to be better consumers of information, manage the complex world around them and be more inclusive of others. Through an effective skills-based health education curriculum, students will practice skills that protect, promote, and enhance lifelong health. Similarly improving foundational social emotional skills such as self-awareness, self- regulation, social awareness (empathy, compassion & respect for self and others), relationships and critical thinking skill development can be applied to address risk factors for substance abuse. These educational programs can complement a Substance Use Policy within a school administrative unit along with distributing naloxone and educating people about how to prevent, recognize and intervene in overdoses to prevent deaths.


Other Resources:

Contact the Office of School and Student Supports at with questions.