Category Archives: Dispatches

MEA Alternate Mathematics and ELA Literacy (MSAA) Test Coordinators (modified)

A Survey Monkey to designate district Test Coordinator(s) for the MSAA alternate assessment is available at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MSAATC2017 .  Special Educator Directors in all districts are required to designate the number of Test Coordinators (TCs) needed in each district, according to district needs.  TCs should hold an administrative position, be available to monitor all Test Administrators through the on-line MSAA System and physically monitor each Test Administrator at least once during student testing.

All surveys must be submitted by January 17th to be enrolled in the MSAA System.  All questions may be directed to Sue Nay at sue.nay@maine.gov, or 624-6774.

Acting Commissioner Hasson Announces $3 Million Available for Grants to School Administrative Units for Regionalization and Efficiency Efforts

Department will develop application for integrated regional school construction.

On January 3, Acting Commissioner Robert Hasson announced that the Maine Department of Education has identified $3 million in funds that will be made available through a competitive application process for school districts pursing regionalization and efficiency efforts. An application for School Administrative Units (SAUs) is available on the DOE website at http://www.maine.gov/doe/.

“There is a clear appetite across Maine to discover new, efficient ways to increase educational opportunities for students in Maine.  The Department encourages every district considering innovative approaches to achieve efficiencies and deliver educational services in new or collaborative ways to apply for these funds. We hope to see ambitious proposals that serve Maine students and free up resources that can enhance educational opportunities,” said Acting Commissioner Hasson. “The Department has been urged by many stakeholders to provide support and incentives for voluntary efforts to regionalize and pursue cost efficiencies. We have heard those calls and are thrilled to take this step to support local efforts.”

“We carefully manage General Purpose Aid for Local Schools (GPA) to ensure that all available funds are available for our schools,” said Acting Deputy Commissioner Suzan Beaudoin. “When we passed the budget last year, we estimated the amount of funds that would be needed for adjustments to state subsidy. Based on the timing of bond issuance and the way that events unfolded, we believe that there are $3 million in funds that would not be dispersed. This grant will allow us to distribute those funds to school districts as adjustments to promote regionalization and efficiency, as allowed under GPA.” According to Acting Deputy Commissioner Beaudoin, undispersed funds resulted from sources such as delayed bond issuance for school construction and money set aside for districts that did not qualify for sudden and severe adjustments.

Acting Commissioner Hasson also announced that the Department is developing an application for regional schools construction projects. The process will support multiple districts working together to program and provide space for students. More details will be made available when the application is finalized and released.

Transportation EFT-21 Safety and Training Report and EFT-24 Vehicle Mileage and Operations Report due dates extended

The due date for FY16 year-end EFT-21 Transportation Safety and Training Report and EFT-24 Vehicle Mileage and Operations Report have been extended to January 31, 2017.

School transportation information is available on the Department’s website at http://maine.gov/doe/transportation/ . For policy questions regarding the EFT-21 and EFT-24 reports, contact the Department’s Transportation and Facilities Administrator Pat Hinckley at pat.hinckley@maine.gov .

For assistance with access to the NEO data system, contact the Maine DOE helpdesk at medms.helpdesk@maine.gov.

Read to ME Challenge Set to Kick-off February 2nd

Year two of the Read to ME Challenge is scheduled to begin on February 2, 2017.  Again this year, First Lady Ann LePage will launch the campaign by reading to children of military families at the Blaine House.  She will follow up her reading by issuing a challenge to all Mainers to participate in the 2017 campaign.  This simple but powerful campaign challenges adults to read to children for 15 minutes, to capture that reading episode via a photo and then post it on social media to challenge others to do the same.  The Read to ME Challenge will run for the month leading up to Read Across America Day on March 2, 2017.

Reading aloud to children is one of the most cost effective and highly beneficial methods of building children’s literate abilities.  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.  Reading aloud exposes children to the world around them, helps them see reading as an enjoyable and valuable activity and often strengthens bonds with trusted adults.

Schools and organizations are invited to join the challenge and to encourage community members to do the same.  The collective voice of many key partners, leaders and those in respected positions will send a clear message about the vital importance reading to children plays in the social and economic well-being of Maine.   Maine DOE also encourages partners to be creative and to use this opportunity to enhance ongoing literacy education outreach efforts.

If your organization is willing and able to promote the Read to ME Challenge, please follow this link to provide us with your contact information: Read to ME Challenge Partner 2017Read to ME Challenge resources, including a guidance document, public service announcements in a variety of languages, fliers and a list of engaging ways to incorporate the challenge are available on the Read to ME Challenge webpage.

Thanks for your consideration of this opportunity, and don’t hesitate to contact leeann.larsen@maine.gov (624-6628) with any questions.

Chapter 124: Public Preschool Program Standards go into effect July 1, 2017

As you will recall, the Maine Department of Education Regulation, Chapter 124: Public Preschool Program Standards go into effect July 1, 2017 for all SAUs.  In order to ensure that your local child count in the public preschool program is included in the NEO system for the 2017-18 school year you will need to complete an application located at this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ExistingPublicPreK

The Maine DOE is asking all superintendents to complete this application (unless you are submitting an application for a new program or have had an application approved for the 2015-16 or 2016-17 school year).  The information included in the application will demonstrate how the district complies with the new standards and will collect data on potential challenges in aligning programs with Chapter 124 regulation.   This information will help the DOE determine the types of support that may be needed in order to assist districts in addressing these issues.

Please make sure you complete the entire application; at the end you will find a list of areas where you can indicate where there are alignment challenges for your preschool program. For more information please contact Sue Reed, Early Childhood Specialist, susan.d.reed@maine.gov  624-6632.

This application is due by March 31, 2017.

**Clarification:  Please note that only districts with existing preschool programs need to complete the application.  If your district does not have a preschool program, please disregard this notice.

Revisions to Chapter 126/ 261 Regulation:

Immunization Requirements for School Children were adopted on December 21, 2016. These rule changes ensure a safe and healthy school environment for all Maine students by requiring all children attending public or private schools in the State of Maine to receive the required vaccines recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).  The update to the number of Varicella exclusion days aligns with recommendations issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC) and removes outdated implementation language. In addition, these updates of terms more clearly reflect the DHHS Office names and structure, to reduce confusion in following the rules.  In recent years, new vaccines against pertussis have been introduced to the routine immunization schedule for children and adolescents, recommended for youths aged 11 to 12 years; specifically Tdap. Pertussis is a highly contagious infection, often causing school or community outbreaks. Maine is one of only three states in the nation without a current Tdap school requirement. Changes to the joint rule include updating the vaccine dosage requirement to include 1 dose of Tdap vaccine for 7th grade entry, which will align with the CDC and ACIP current recommendations. Additionally, the required number of exclusion dates for Varicella disease will change from 16 days to 21 days to reflect the current US CDC school exclusion guidelines, an oversight from the previous change to this rule. The link to the rule is:   http://www.maine.gov/doe/rule/changes/index.html

For further information, contact Jaci Holmes at 624-6669 or by email at jaci.holmes@maine.gov.

Regional school calendars due by May 5

School administrative units and private schools approved for tuition purposes are expected to establish regional school calendars, in coordination with their local secondary career and technical education school, by May 5, 2017.

The Legislature enacted that requirement as part of Public Law 2011, Chapter 686, which expands access to career and technical education in Maine and ensures that students completing career and technical education (CTE) coursework have greater access to post-secondary opportunities.  Specifically, the law addresses scheduling conflicts that pose barriers to students by requiring that those school districts and private schools approved for tuition purposes that share a CTE school adopt a regional school calendar with no more than five dissimilar days. Furthermore, implementation of the law is intended to promote collaboration among local school administrative units that may benefit other forms of inter-administrative unit collaboration beyond CTE.  The law became effective Aug. 30, 2012, and establishing the regional calendar is a condition for eligibility for state subsidy.

For 2017-18, both regional school calendars and individual calendars for each school administrative unit must be submitted by the director of the local CTE Center/Region to the Commissioner of Education by May 5 for a decision on approval by June 2. Guidance and templates can be accessed electronically at www.maine.gov/doe/regionalcalendar/.

Given the coordination required for fulfillment of this law, the Maine DOE recommends that school districts initiate discussions as soon as possible, including representatives from all affected secondary schools and their associated career and technical education center or region.

For more information including guidance, templates, a waiver process and a link to the complete law, please visit  www.maine.gov/doe/regionalcalendar/ or contact Doug Robertson (doug.robertson@maine.gov) at 624-6744 or Margaret Harvey (margaret.harvey@maine.gov) at 624-6739.

Maine DOE Prepares for Year 2 of Read to ME Challenge Campaign

During February of 2016, the Maine Department of Education’s Literacy for ME  initiative organized and promoted the Read to ME Challenge.  This simple but powerful campaign challenged adults to read to children for 15 minutes, to capture that reading episode via a photo and then post it on social media to challenge others to do the same.  Over 100 Maine schools, community literacy teams and other literacy-related organizations partnered in the 2016 campaign and the Maine DOE is hoping that many more organizations will partner in the 2017 campaign scheduled to kick off the first week of February.

Reading aloud to children is one of the most cost effective and highly beneficial methods of building children’s literate abilities.  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.  Reading aloud exposes children to the world around them, helps them see reading as an enjoyable and valuable activity and often strengthens bonds with trusted adults.

We invite your school or organization to join the challenge and to encourage community members to do the same.  The collective voice of many key partners, leaders and those in respected positions will send a clear message about the vital importance reading to children plays in the social and economic well-being of Maine.  Maine DOE also encourages partners to be creative and to use this opportunity to enhance ongoing literacy education outreach efforts.

If your organization is willing and able to promote the Read to ME Challenge, please follow this link to provide us with your contact information: Read to ME Challenge Partner 2017Read to ME Challenge resources, including a guidance document, public service announcements, fliers and a list of engaging ways to incorporate the challenge will be available online in mid-December.

School officials and organizations with inquiries about participating in the Read to ME Challenge should contact Lee Anne Larsen at leeann.larsen@maine.gov or 624-6628.

Biddeford Middle School Music Teacher among top 25 semi-finalists nationwide for Music Educator of the Year

Biddeford Middle School Music Teacher Amy Delorge was recently named a top 25 semi-finalist from a field of 2,000 nominees nationwide for Music Educator of the Year.  The winner will be named on December 15, 2016 at the Chicago Midwest International Band Clinic.

“It is an honor to be considered among those who make such tremendous contributions to the field of music education in this prestigious group,” stated Delorge, a music teacher for 24 years.  “This nomination is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of the Biddeford Middle School Band Program and its consistent growth serving our school and community.”

The eligibility criteria include: current, full-time educators in the U.S. who teach music in public, private or homeschools K-16; five or more years of music education and/or performance experience; demonstrate successful transferring of knowledge and passion to their students in hopes of developing their creative skills; conducted personal research and are experts in music history, theory, processes and techniques; and have devoted a major part of their careers to the advancement of music education.

Certification of superintendent election or reelection

The Maine DOE is reminding administrators and school board members of the approaching deadline for annual certification of employment of Superintendent of Schools and related forms to be completed and submitted to the Department.

School boards must meet by Dec. 31 to elect a superintendent if their superintendent’s contract expires in 2017 and then must submit a report on employment of their superintendent to the Maine DOE by Jan. 31.

Additional information including forms and instructions can be found here.

Please contact Danielle McKay at danielle.mckay@maine.gov or 207-624-6663 with questions.