Category Archives: News & Views

Take the ‘Read to ME Challenge’

Augusta – Maine’s First Lady launched the Read to ME Challenge today at the Blaine House. Reflecting on how she and her husband, Governor Paul LePage, raised their children by reading to them and exploring the world through reading, Mrs. LePage shared, “I knew that when a child learns to read, there is nothing they can’t learn, imagine, or accomplish in life.”

First Lady Ann LePage reads to military children as she kicks off Maine's Read To Me Challenge

First Lady Ann LePage reads to children of military families as she kicks off Maine’s Read To Me Challenge

Reading to children of military families, the First Lady shared two books, Groovy Joe: Ice Cream and Dinosaurs and Baxter in the Blaine House, with her captive audience. Once the children studied the brilliant illustrations of the Blaine House, they were offered the chance to explore and see some of the rooms depicted in the story book. First Lady LePage challenged Brigadier General Douglas Farnum of the Maine National Guard.

Baxter in the Blaine House

Baxter in the Blaine House

The Maine DOE’s Read to ME Challenge runs through March 2, Read Across America Day. Maine DOE Literacy Specialist Lee Anne Larsen wants the momentum to last all month long. “Our goal is to promote the critical importance of reading to and with children from birth through their childhoods. When children are read to regularly, their vocabulary grows, they build knowledge of the world, they stimulate their imaginations, and they discover how words communicate ideas.”

The challenge is simple. Read with a child for at least 15 minutes, capture a photo or video, post it on social media with the hash tags #ReadtoME or #ReadaloudME, and nominate others to do the same. Creative ways of completing the challenge are encouraged – for example, read to a child using FaceTime or Skype. If preferred, you can complete the challenge by listening to audiobooks with a child.

“The enthusiasm has been building since before the launch with schools, libraries and other organizations planning innovative ways of promoting the challenge. All Mainers are encouraged to get involved,” said Larsen.

You can reach Lee Anne Larsen at leeann.larsen@maine.gov to learn more about Maine DOE’s Read to ME Challenge. Go ahead, take the challenge!

Organizations needed to feed hungry children this summer

AUGUSTA — With the assistance of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Maine public schools have long offered a nutritious breakfast and lunch meal program to thousands of income eligible children in Maine during the school year. To extend this program, Maine Department of Education Child Nutrition (Maine DOE) is seeking organizations who would like to participate in the federally funded Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), which provides children healthy meals when school is not in session.

“It is well documented that students learn best when they are not hungry. In fact, a nutritious, well-balanced diet is an important attribute of a great education,” says Maine DOE Acting Commissioner Robert Hasson. “Our nutrition programs in Maine serve our students well. With federal assistance, Maine needs partners for the Summer Food Service Program.”

In 2016, 119 sponsors participated in the program, serving an average of 12,182 lunches per day to children at over 400 sites. Although almost 700 more meals were served per day in 2016 than 2015, there is still a long way to go towards feeding all eligible children during the summer. Community partners are working to maximize the number of sponsors utilizing the availability of funds under the SFSP.

The Summer Food Service Program may be offered statewide in areas or at sites where more than 50 percent of the children are eligible for free or reduced meal benefits under the National School Lunch Program or census track data supports the need. Organizations that provide services in rural communities or near migrant farm workers and American Indian populations are urged to participate. Eligible sponsoring organizations include schools, nonprofit residential summer camps, government agencies, and tax-exempt organizations including faith-based organizations.

Maine DOE encourages any eligible organization to consider providing this much-needed service to Maine children. The agency will begin accepting applications to participate in February. Approved sponsors will be reimbursed for eligible meals served to children during the long summer break.

Interested organizations should begin planning now for a successful summer. Potential sponsors are required to attend training sessions. For a complete schedule of trainings, please visit http://www.maine.gov/doe/nutrition/programs/sfsp/index.html. Maine DOE is available to attend meetings or consult by phone and email to answer questions regarding summer meals.

For more information about the Maine DOE’s Summer Food Service Program, contact adriane.ackroyd@maine.gov, call 624-6726 or visit http://www.maine.gov/doe/nutrition/programs/sfsp/index.html.

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In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity, in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.) should contact the Agency ere they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, heard of hearing, or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program discrimination complaint, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, AD-3027, found online at How to File a Program Discrimination Complaint and at any USDA office or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

(1) Mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;

(2) Fax: (202) 690-7442; or

(3) Email: program.intake@usda.gov.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

This institution is an equal opportunity provider. In accordance with State law this institution is prohibited from discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, sexual orientation or disability. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs)

To file a complaint of discrimination, write Maine Department of Education, Civil Rights Officer, 23 State House Station, Augusta, ME, 04333 or call 207-624-6875. Maine is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

 

Nominations sought for 2018 Maine Teacher of the Year

AUGUSTA – Nominations are now open for the 2018 Maine Teacher of the Year.

Members of the public are encouraged to nominate educators who demonstrate a commitment to excellence and nurturing the achievement of all students at http://www.mainetoy.org through Feb. 6. To be considered, a teacher must hold at least a four-year degree and be employed by a Maine public school – including a public charter school or publicly supported secondary school.

The eventual winner of the state’s highest teaching honor, which is awarded by the Maine Department of Education through a program administered by Educate Maine, serves as an advocate for teachers, students and the efforts underway in Maine’s public schools to prepare students for success in college, career and civic life.

Maine’s 2017 Teacher of the Year, Tammy Ranger, is a middle school reading interventionist at Skowhegan Area Middle School and was selected from over 300 entries and included recognition at the county level.  In addition to Ranger, other 2016 state finalists included Rebecca Tapley, math and writing teacher at Brooklin Elementary School and 2016 Hancock County Teacher of the Year, and Cherrie MacInnis, third grade teacher at Brewer Community School and 2016 Penobscot County Teacher of the Year.

The 2018 Maine Teacher of the Year will be selected from the 16 county honorees, who will be whittled down to eight semi-finalists and then three state finalists before the ultimate winner is announced by Maine’s Education Commissioner at a surprise school assembly in the fall.

Maine Teacher of the Year is a program of the Maine DOE that since 2013 has been administered by Educate Maine, a business-led organization whose mission is to champion college, career readiness and increased education attainment. Funding is provided by Bangor Savings Bank, Geiger, Hannaford and Dead River with support from the State Board of Education and the Maine State Teacher of the Year Association.

The Teacher of the Year program has no cost to taxpayers. Bangor Savings Bank reimburses the winning educator’s school district for the cost of substitutes while the Teacher of the Year is out of the classroom on their official duties, which includes travel throughout the state, a week at NASA Space Camp and a visit to the White House.

For more information about the Maine Teacher of the Year program, visit www.maine.gov/doe/toy/. For more information about Educate Maine, visit www.educatemaine.org.
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Maine Department of Education to hold a Public Information Session in Presque Isle on February 1st concerning Regional School Construction

REVISED 1/30/16: A correction in the date of the Biddeford session has been made.

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 1st at the University of Maine at Presque Isle’s Campus Center, 181 Main Street, Presque Isle.

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 website.

Additional evening information sessions will be held across Maine, including February 6th at the University of New England in Biddeford and February 27th at the Eastern Maine Community College in Bangor.

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

Approval of FY 2017 School Revolving Renovation Fund applications

Maine DOE has awarded $12.2 million in School Revolving Renovation Fund (SRRF) loans to 21 school districts. The loans will be used to complete 40 health, safety and compliance projects at 28 schools including structural roof repairs, indoor air quality improvements, ADA upgrades, and hazardous material removal. A portion of each loan is considered a grant and is forgiven while the remaining balance of the loan is paid back at a zero percent interest rate.

The complete list of approved projects can be viewed at http://www.maine.gov/doe/facilities/renovation/index.html.

For additional information about the SRRF program please contact Ann Pinnette at 624-6885 or ann.pinnette@maine.gov.

Department releases application for innovative, regional school construction pilot

Department releases application for innovative, regional school construction pilot

AUGUSTA – Acting Commissioner Robert G. Hasson today announced that the Maine Department of Education, in concert with the State Board of Education, has released an application for innovative, regional school construction and is encouraging school districts to work together to apply for the 2017-2018 rating cycle. The “Integrated, Consolidated 9-16 School Construction 2017-2018 Rating Cycle Application” is now available on the Department website.

The Department hopes to identify a pilot project that results in the construction of a new, regional high school that integrates career and technical education (CTE), collaboration with Maine’s higher education institutions, and expands programming and services to students throughout the region.

“This is an exciting step forward to create new opportunities for Maine students,” said Dr. Hasson. “We hope that communities around the state have heard the clarion call that the Department of Education will stand behind voluntary efforts to collaborate and deliver education in new, innovative ways.”

The application for school administrative units and their partner organizations consists of two parts. Part 1, in which school administrative units must identify partner organizations and their envisioned partnership, will be due to the Department on May 1, 2017.

“The application process is intended to be straightforward and to follow existing statute and rules,” said Scott Brown, Director of School Construction Programs. “This new pathway for regional collaboration provides new opportunities for collaboration while following best practices from the State’s traditional construction programs.”

Following the scoring of Part 1, the Department will determine whether there are applicants that qualify to move forward to Part 2. The Part 2 application is due 6 months after receipt of formal written authorization to proceed from Part 1.

“We have designed a process and a timeline that is equally aggressive and measured,” said Dr. Hasson.  “Based on the number of grassroots efforts around the state looking for support for a project of this kind, we are hopeful that there will be several strong proposals resulting in a pilot project that leads the way for future efforts.”

The Department will hold public information sessions around the state where members of the public and interested parties (including superintendents, school leaders and school board members) may ask questions. Those questions and answers will be posted on the Department’s website in an effort to provide all schools with the same information.

The information sessions will take place in the evening, as follows:

  • #1: Wednesday, February 1 at the University of Maine at Presque Isle
    • Location: Campus Center, 181 Main Street, Presque Isle, ME
    • Time: 6pm – 8pm
  • # 2: Monday, February 6 at the University of New England in Biddeford
    • Location: Harold Alfond Forum,  11 Hills Beach Road, Biddeford, ME
    • Time: 6pm – 8pm
  • #3: Monday, February 27 Eastern Maine Community College in Bangor
    • Location: Rangeley Hall,  Room 107,  354 Hogan Road, Bangor, ME
    • Time: 6pm – 8pm
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Additional guidance is provided, below:
2017 Application Cycle to Identify an
Integrated, Consolidated 9 – 16 Educational Facility Pilot Project
Under the provisions of 20-A MRS §15905 and Chapter 61 State Board of Education Rules for Major Capital School Construction Projects Section 15 the Commissioner and the State Board have initiated an application process which will identify an Integrated, Consolidated 9 – 16 Educational Facility pilot project.  The intent of Section 15 is to create a new regional high school integrated with a career and technical school, the University of Maine System, and the Maine Community College System and that supports industry training programs leading to recognized licensure and certification.  The preferred pilot project will combine three or more high schools (additional grades would be considered) and will create a new governing school board.  Schools units are encouraged to work with neighboring school districts on this new process.The Integrated Consolidated 9 – 16 Educational Facility application consists of two parts.  Part 1 includes an initial letter of intent, responses to four prompts, and evidence of interest from potential partners.  Upon receipt, review, and rating of all Part 1 applications the Commissioner will establish a points threshold to determine those applicants approved to proceed to Part 2.  Only those applicants who receive formal written authorization will proceed to Part 2.  The Department may provide support to assist in completion of Part 2 of the application.

The Part 2 application requires an overview of the proposed model, responses to a number of prompts, an overview of the technical and financial supports needed from the Department in order to fully develop and implement the model, and evidence of approval votes by the various partners.  Upon receipt, review and rating of all Part 2 applications, Part 1 scores will be combined with Part 2 scores for a final total.  Using the final total scores, the Facilities Team will develop a priority list for the Commissioner to recommend to the State Board of Education.  The Department reserves the right to recommend more than one final project or to reject all applications.

Once the successful pilot project is identified and selected the Department of Education intends to provide funds for required planning work associated with the development of the project (facilitation, legal, start up, referendum, etc.). Decisions about renovation, expansion or building a new facility will be made during this planning phase.

The Part 1 application is due on May 1, 2017 and the Part 2 application is due 6 months after receipt of formal written authorization to proceed from Part 1.  Both applications can be downloaded from http://www.maine.gov/doe/facilities/construction/Part 1 and 2 9 – 16 Application 1.19.17.docx.

Information about this project can be found at http://www.maine.gov/doe/facilities/construction/index.html.   Integrated, consolidated school construction regional meetings regarding this application have been set up and times and locations can be found online.  All questions should be asked at one of the upcoming regional meetings. Those questions and answers will be posted online in an effort to provide all schools with the same information.

School Administrative Units seeking funding for major school construction, renovation, and consolidation projects within their school unit should use the Major Capital School Construction Program to address those needs. That application is available at http://www.maine.gov/doe/facilities/documents/application2017-18.docx.  Those applications are due on April 14, 2017.

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Priority Notice: EFT-24 Transportation Vehicle Mileage and Operations Annual Data Report due date extension

EFT-24 Transportation Vehicle Mileage and Operations Annual Data Report due date extension

The due date for the year-end Transportation Vehicle Mileage and Operations Annual Data Report (EFT-24) has been extended to March 17, 2016 in order to accommodate design updates.  The new updated report will open February 16, 2017.

Between February 16, 2017 and March 17, 2017 all districts must complete the report.  Submit your data early.  Districts that reported EFT-24 data before February 16, 2017 must log into the NEO data system to answer new questions and review their data.

For policy questions regarding the EFT-24, 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.

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.

Update 2016 Refresh of MLTI Devices

Recently, many districts received an invoice to cover the cost of broken and damaged devices from the 2016 Refresh of MLTI devices.

Understanding the difficulty that districts face in paying unanticipated invoices that arrive in the middle of a school year, the Department has been working to identify solutions to alleviate the financial burden on school districts.

As a result of this review, the Department eliminated the costs to districts for all affected districts for broken and damaged devices.  This does not include the costs for missing devices, which are still the responsibility of the district.

In the future, the Department will work with districts to find strategies to ensure that devices are maintained in good working order and that districts have sufficient notice of any costs that might be incurred. We understand that this recent series of events has not reflected the high level of support that you have come to expect from MLTI and we will work to re-earn your confidence.

If you have questions, please contact the MLTI Office at 624-6834.

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.