Category Archives: News & Views

Administrative Letter: Rescheduling and Requesting Waivers for Storm Days

Administrative Letter: #6
Policy Code: ID
To: Superintendents, School Board Chairs, and Private School Head Administrators
From: Robert G. Hasson, Jr., Ed.D., Acting Commissioner
Date: March 6, 2017
Re: Rescheduling and Requesting Waivers for Storm Days

As many of you are well aware, this winter has resulted in above normal snowfall amounts and many school administrative units have had to exceed the number of storm days that were originally planned for in the school calendar. This has resulted in concerns about meeting the regulations pertaining to the length of the school year. Below we have provided a link to the regulations pertaining to rescheduling and requesting waivers for storm days, along with a brief summary that we hope will help administrative leaders as they make decisions about how to make up the lost days. In Chapter 125: Basic Approval Standards: Public Schools and School Administrative Units Section 6.01, subsections C (1) and (2), regulations state that the Commissioner may waive the minimum school year requirements upon submission of a written request from the school board to the Commissioner, and that waivers will be granted only after school officials have exhausted all reasonable avenues for making up lost school days, and only in extraordinary circumstances. As a reminder, the requirement is 175 days for students in grades K-11, and 170 days for high school seniors. Acceptable efforts to reschedule classes include the following:

  • Rescheduling or shortening scheduled vacation
  • Postponing the scheduled school closing date
  • Conducting classes on weekends
  • In addition, districts sometimes choose to revert a scheduled teacher in-service day to a student instructional day

Please note, under Chapter 125 Section 6.02, subsection C, school administrative units may, with the permission of the Commissioner, schedule a one hour extension of the school day for up to 25 days in a school year; 5 one hour extensions may be counted as an additional school day. Please see the Waivers for Snow Days Frequently Asked Questions provided on Maine DOE’s website for more details, including defining/calculating an instructional day. Waivers should be submitted in writing from the school board or its designee to the Commissioner’s Office at the Maine Department of Education [per Chapter 125 Section 6.01 subsection C (2)]. In addition, please contact Pamela Ford-Taylor, School Approval Services, by email Pamela.Ford-Taylor@maine.gov or by phone 624-6617, of the intent to file a waiver request as soon as possible. We all realize how valuable instructional time is for our students. Thank you for your efforts to ensure that your students have the opportunity to learn for the intended full school calendar year.

EPS High-Cost Out-of-District Report (EF-S-214) open for reporting on March 13

The EF-S-214 will be open to Maine public schools on March 13. The report must be approved by the School Finance Team by April 15 to be used in the calculation for an adjustment.  School districts should sign into the report as early as possible, as some aspects of the report have changed.  Starting this year, the business manager will have to certify that the figures reported by the Special Education office are consistent with the data in the school district financial system.

This report is required to be submitted by all publically funded school districts.  School districts need to project the costs for the full fiscal year.  Only costs for tuition and board should be included in the report.  For Fiscal Year 2017 only students that have a total cost above $31,548 should be included on the report.  Those districts that have no students who meet that threshold are still required to submit a report.

We have made some changes for this year:

  • Students can have multiple lines if they have had more than one placement during the year
  • School districts will now have the option to see a summary sheet that will provide them the total adjustment if all costs are approved
  • An internal messaging system has been added if there are any questions
  • The form will auto-populate the school district contact based on information in the staff module and the person filling out the form based on the login information
  • The form will need to be certified by the business manager

The report can be located by logging into NEO at https://neo.maine.gov/DOE/NEO/Accounts/Account/Login

Questions about the report should be direct to Stephanie Clark at 624-6807.

Maine DOE Child Nutrition Announces Change to the USDA Food Program Ordering

Maine DOE Child Nutrition announces the annual order opening date for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Program for School Administrative Units (SAU) is March 7, 2017. The SAU must order their USDA food products beginning on March 7, 2017 to March 20, 2017.  The deadline date has no flexibility.  This is the first year the annual order has been moved to March.  This federally required change allows the SAU to order the items they want and the amount they want, up to their entitlement level.

Once the SAU orders, Maine DOE Child Nutrition will place the order with USDA based on local orders. USDA will ship product to Maine’s contracted warehouse for distribution to the local SAU.  It is imperative the SAU order their product for next school year by the deadline date.  This will be the only time period the SAU can order product for the annual order.  There will be opportunities to pick up some limited items monthly, but 95% of the product will be ordered for the specific SAU.  The new March annual order has been promoted to SAU food service program staff at meetings, weekly updates and training over the last year.  This is a very tight schedule for ordering on the local and state level.  Maine must have all orders into USDA in March.  Different products have different USDA deadline dates, but all are in March.  Products are ordered in the Maine DOE NEO system as in prior years, but in March not August.  The deadline date to order is close of business on March 20, 2017.

Additionally, there will be changes to the USDA fresh product offering for School Year 2018.

For more information, contact Child Nutrition Director Walter Beesley at walter.beesley@maine.gov or call 624-6875 or Terri Fitzgerald at terri.fitzgerald@maine.gov or call 624-6882.

PRIORITY NOTICE: Seeking Public Comment for the Maine Department of Education Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Consolidated State Plan

The Maine Department of Education is seeking 30 days of public comment on Maine’s ESSA State Consolidated Plan from March 1 – 30, 2017

The passage of the Every Students Succeeds Act in 2015 shifted the former Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 from a federally driven, highly prescriptive set of programs and regulations to a state determined plan to ensure a focus on equity and excellence for all students.

The U.S. Department of Education is requiring every state educational agency to submit a Consolidated State Plan. “When developing its consolidated State plan, the Department encourages each State Educational Agency to reflect on its overall vision and how the different sections of the consolidated State plan work together to create one comprehensive approach to improving outcomes for all students.”

As a result, the Maine Department of Education ESSA State Plan is based on prioritized needs identified in Maine’s existing strategic plan. This plan was stakeholder informed and driven in 2012 and correlates with the five overarching elements of the federal Consolidated Plan, which are as follows:

  1. Long-Term Goals
  2. Consultation and Performance Management
  3. Academic Assessments
  4. Accountability, Support, and Improvement for Schools
  5. Supporting Excellent Educators
  6. Supporting All Students

By this integration the Department is utilizing the ESSA Plan as the enhancement mechanism to move Maine’s educational priorities forward.

The Department engaged over 40 Maine educators representing different stakeholder groups to serve as members of the ESSA Advisory and Workgroup teams to examine the components of the consolidated application pertinent to their focus area and to discuss potential recommendations for each specific component.

 Please note the changes which may affect the final format of  plan:

  • Possible changes in the ESSA Accountability federal regulations
  • Changes to the Consolidated Plan template indicated by the U. S Department of Education Secretary Devos on February 13, 2017 to reflect only those components that are “absolutely necessary”.

The Full Maine Consolidated State Plan
The Executive Summary (Includes an introductory letter from Acting Commissioner Hasson)

Comments may be submitted to: ESSA.DOE@maine.gov

Comments sought on Maine’s IDEA Part B application

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) is seeking public comments on its annual application for federal funds under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which covers services to children with disabilities, ages 3-20.

The application, which covers Maine fiscal year 2018 (starting July 1, 2017) is posted on the Maine DOE’s webpage at http://www.maine.gov/doe/specialed/idea. The Part B budget is projected on the basis of Maine’s award for the current State fiscal year (2017), pending the State’s receipt of the finalized federal award for the coming year. Both documents will be posted from March 9th, 2017 through May 8th, 2017.

Written comments will be accepted from March 9th, 2017 until 4 p.m. on April 8th, 2017. Please send comments to Janice Breton at janice.breton@maine.gov or 23 State House Station, Augusta, ME. 04333.

 

Attendance Matters: Connecting For Student Success Regional Meetings

Attendance Matters! The Spring Connecting For Student Success regional meetings sponsored by ME Department of Education and Count ME In are happening statewide. You can attend a regional meeting that is convenient for you.

Lewiston -Tuesday, March 14
Portland –  Wednesday, March 22
Bangor – Monday, March 27
Caribou – Tuesday, March 28
Augusta – Thursday, April 6

Attendees will hear schools share effective strategies as well as a presentation on effective approaches to address bias and harassment . Sessions are free but registration is required.  To learn more go to www.countmeinmaine.org

Attendance Matters because early absences can affect later achievement, since students can miss some of the key building blocks for learning.  Absences add up- just two days a month can mean 18 absences a year.

To register: http://countmeinmaine.org/site/?page_id=168   For more information, please contact Sarah Ricker at sarah.ricker@maine.gov or Susan Lieberman at slieberman@countmeinmaine.org

Media Advisory: Maine DOE welcomes new Director of Communications

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:  Debra Plowman, DOE, 624-6620

(Augusta)  Acting Commissioner of the Department of Education Robert Hasson has announced that Rachel Paling joined the team in the Department of Education as the Director of Communications on Tuesday, February 21, 2017. Rachel previously worked as the Communications Manager at the University of Maine, Augusta where she held that position for 5 years.

“Rachel’s experience in communications, messaging, web management, and graphics and design makes her a great addition to our team and we look forward to her contributions to our mission at the Department.”

Rachel lives in New Sharon with her husband and two children. We are so pleased to welcome her.  You can reach Rachel at Rachel.Paling@maine.gov or by calling 624-6747.

Media Advisory: (Updated) Maine Department of Education to Hold a Public Information Session in Bangor on February 27th concerning Regional School Construction

AUGUSTA –

Acting Commissioner Robert G. Hasson will lead a public information session, accompanied by representatives from the Maine Department of Education and the Senior Education Policy Advisor to Governor LePage. The public session will be held from 6:00PM to 8:00PM on February 27th at Eastern Maine Community College in Bangor, in Rangeley Hall, room 107.

The information session will focus on providing answers to public questions concerning the recently announced 2017-2018 rating cycle for an innovative, regional school construction pilot. The “Integrated, Consolidated 9-16 School Construction 2017-2018 Rating Cycle Application” is now available on the Department of Education website.

An additional information session will be held on March 31st from 10:00AM to 12:00PM in Augusta at the Burton M. Cross State Office Building in room 103.

All questions and answers discussed at the session will be posted on the Department’s website.

Training offered for education technicians

Maine Department of Education’s Special Services Division is offering a professional development opportunity specifically for education technicians working with students with disabilities and challenging behaviors. Topics covered during this day-long session include: the roles and responsibilities of the educational technician; special education and the IEP process; implementing accommodations/modifications; and, supporting students to succeed in the classroom at all grade levels.

These no-cost sessions are offered in Augusta, Brewer, Houlton and Portland. For dates, locations, registration and other information, visit the Department’s professional development calendar.

RFP issued for 21st Century Community Learning Centers program

The Maine Department of Education has issued a request for proposals (RFP) seeking bids from interested parties to execute comprehensive 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) programs in 2017-18.

Enacted under Title IV, Part B of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the 21st CCLC program provides competitive grant funding to support before school, after school, and summer learning programs that focus on improving the academic performance of students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12.

In Maine, the primary purpose of the 21st CCLC program is to provide school and community partnerships with funding to establish or expand programs that provide educational and related support services to students and families in high-need, economically-disadvantaged communities. Allowable activities for 21st CCLC programs include providing academic enrichment opportunities designed to complement traditional school day curriculum. In addition, these programs can provide a broad array of additional support services related to the overall health and well-being of students. Local 21st CCLC programs, which are either located in an elementary schools, secondary schools or similarly accessible community facilities, provide these high-quality support services to students during non-school hours or periods when school is not in session. As such, these programs also support working parents and families by providing safe, conducive learning environments for students at times when school is not in session.

The RFP, which includes information on program eligibility and requirements for new, expansion, and continuation applicants, is available here. A technical assistance webinar, which will provide supplemental information for completing the RFP application, will be posted to the Department’s application site on March 2, 2017.

For more information on the 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) Program, contact the Department’s Federal Grant Coordinator Travis Doughty at travis.w.doughty@maine.gov.