Category Archives: Press Releases

Press releases from before January 1, 2010, are in the archive.

Members announced to Blue Ribbon Commission to Reform Public Education Funding

Members announced to Blue Ribbon Commission to Reform Public Education Funding

 AUGUSTA – The Commissioner’s Office at the Department of Education has announced the members of the Commission to Reform Public Education Funding and Improve Student Performance in Maine. The Commission was created during the 127th Maine State Legislature as part of the bill that added an additional $15 million in education funding for local schools. The Commission will examine increasing costs throughout the public education system in Maine and recommend action to reform public education funding and to improve student performance in the State.

Governor Paul R. LePage has appointed Bill Beardsley, who leads the Department of Education, to chair the 15-member Blue Ribbon Commission on which the Governor will also serve. Joining them will be four members of legislative leadership, the Chancellor of the University System, the President of the Maine Community College System, and additional members designated according to the legislation that created the Commission.

In announcing the members of the Blue Ribbon Commission, Beardsley said, “This is an extraordinary group of leaders. They bring diverse experience, perspectives, interests, and a sphere of influences to this body. The intent is to identify and prioritize potential higher order outcomes where there is a broad consensus and then build grand bargains in terms of strategic action plans. Commissions are challenged, yet this is a team that has the potential to move the marker in Maine’s K-16 public education. I consider it a privilege to be involved.”

By law, the Commission must be convened no later than May 1, 2016. The Governor has invited the members of the Commission to the Blaine House on April 25, 2016, so that they may meet each other and discuss how they will work together in furtherance of the goals outlined in LD 1641. The Commission is tasked with submitting a report to the Governor and the legislature’s Joint Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs.

The full list of Commission members includes the following:

Senator Garrett P. Mason (R) of Senate District 17 is the Senate Majority Leader representing the Senate Republicans. Mason is currently serving his third term in the Maine State Senate. He resides in Lisbon Falls.

Senator Justin L. Alfond (D) of Senate District 8 is the Senate Minority Leader. Alfond was first elected to the Senate in 2008. He resides in Portland.

Representative Sara Gideon (D) of House District 106 is the Assistant Majority Leader. Gideon is serving her second term in the Maine House of Representatives. She resides in Freeport.

Representative Kenneth W. Fredette (R) of House District 25 is the House Minority Leader. He has served in the Maine Legislature since 2011. Fredette is an officer in the Maine Air National Guard and resides in Newport.

Jana F. LaPoint, a member of the State Board of Education, has been designated to the Commission by the Chair of the State Board. She also serves on the Maine Charter School Commission, which she formerly chaired. LaPoint previously served as a trustee on the Maine Community College System board for 11 years, with two years as Chair. She resides in Falmouth.

Tayla Edlund, the 2016 Maine Teacher of the Year, has been designated to the Commission by the Maine Education Association. Edlund teaches third grade at Pond Cove Elementary School in Cape Elizabeth.

Michael Wilhelm, a member of the Maine Charter School Commission and the 2003 Superintendent of the Year, has been designated to the Commission by the Chair of the Charter School Commission. After 19 years of service in Topsham, Wilhelm retired in 2003 and has served in interim positions. He resides in Casco.

Robert T. Callahan, director of the Lewiston Regional Technical Center, has been designated by Maine Administrators of Career and Technical Education to serve on the Commission. Callahan served as Director of Lewiston Adult Education before becoming the Director of LRTC. He resides in Gorham.

Douglas Larlee has been designated a public member of the Commission. Larlee is a second grade educator in RSU 74’s Carrabec Community School in North Anson. With over 40 years as an educator in Maine, Larlee has a wealth of experience and has served as chief negotiator for the local teachers’ contract. He resides in Norridgewock.

Joshua Reny, the assistant city manager of South Portland has been designated as a public member with municipal management experience, reflecting his current role as well as his former role as the Town Manager in Fairfield, Maine. Reny serves as a board member of the Southern Maine Community College Foundation and previously served with the Kennebec Valley Community College Foundation. He resides in Fairfield.

Richard P. Colpitts, Superintendent of Schools for SAD 17, Oxford Hills School District, has been designated by the Maine School Management Association. Colpitts served as Principal in School Administrative Districts 44 and 39. In 2010, he became Superintendent in SAD 17 and in December was named Superintendent of the Year. He resides in Peru.

James H. Page, Chancellor of the University of Maine System, has agreed to serve on the Commission. In 2012, Dr. Page was named Chancellor of the UMaine System after serving as CEO of the James W. Sewall Company in Old Town. Page is the first University of Maine System Chancellor to be born in Maine and to have been educated at one of the System’s universities. Page has also served as an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University. He resides in Old Town.

Derek P. Langhauser, President of the Maine Community College System, has also agreed to serve on to the Commission. Langhauser was named President earlier this year after serving as Interim President following his 20-year tenure on the leadership team of the Maine Community College System. Langhauser is a nationally recognized expert on higher education law and has served as General Counsel to the Community College System since 1994 as well as special counsel to Maine Maritime Academy. He resides in Cumberland Foreside.

For more information, contact Director of Communications, Anne Gabbianelli at or 624-6747.





Cook-off promotes local foods in schools; a healthy competition

AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Education is promoting locally grown products in school meals by holding the first annual 2016 Maine Farm to School Cook-off.

The regional cook-offs will be held Wednesday, April 13 at the Westbrook Regional Vocational Center and Thursday, April 14 at the Capital Area Technical Center in Augusta. The final cook-off on May 17 will be held at the Kennebec Valley Community College, Harold Alfond Campus in Hinckley.

Each volunteer team will prepare two meals within a specific time frame using at least three ingredients that are grown, raised, caught, or manufactured in the State of Maine and meet National School Breakfast and Lunch Program requirements. All recipes will later be shared in a Maine farm to school cook-off recipe book.

Food service staff representing RSU 61, Portland, Lewiston, RSU 38, Five-Town CSD and RSU 13 will participate in this year’s event. Westbrook and Augusta CTE centers along with KVCC were chosen as cook-off sites for their culinary arts facilities which include well-equipped kitchens and individual cooking and presentation areas.

A panel of judges for the regional cook-offs consists of a CTE culinary arts student, school nutrition director, and professional chef. They will score the dishes based on presentation, taste, creativity, and feasibility to be used in a school breakfast or lunch program.

For final judging, a Kennebec Valley Community College culinary arts student will join a school nutrition director and professional chef. The winning team will be awarded a plaque and have the opportunity to be spokespeople for the second annual cook off in 2017.

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

Members of the media are welcome to attend but need to confirm prior to the event. This event is NOT open to the public.

For more information and to confirm coverage, contact: Anne Gabbianelli at or call 624-6747.


The Maine State Board of Education has renewed leadership and new members

For Immediate Release  Monday, April 4

AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage has reappointed Martha Harris to the State Board of Education for a second five-year term.  She has served on the Board since 2010, including one year as vice chair and as chair of the Board since July of 2015.

Harris is an accomplished lawyer practicing in Bangor since 1977 with a wealth of expertise in family law and mediation which are closely related to the work she does with the State Board of Education. Her involvement in education spans from her 20 plus years of service on the RSU 22 School Board to her involvement in the National Association of State Boards of Education.

“I have observed there are few people in Maine who have a busier schedule than Martha Harris,” said Governor LePage. “Despite her packed schedule of mediations, court appearances and professional obligation, Martha always makes time for the important work of the State Board of Education, and I appreciate her dedicated service.”

Joining the Board are John Bird of Rockland and Wilson Hess of Freedom for five-year terms, as well as student representative Elise McKendry of Jackman for a two-year term.

Bird spent 29 years as an educator and administrator. He has been an education consultant to 268 schools and organizations in 41 states and five other nations or territories as through the President Educators’ Collaborative.

In addition to his long career in the field of education, Bird currently serves on the boards of the Strand Theater, the Penobscot Bay YMCA and the Island Institute, and he is a member of the Maine Charter Schools Commission.

Bird is a graduate of Rockland High School class of 1955. He holds BA in political science from Bowdoin and a Masters in School Administration from George Washington University.

Former President of the University of Maine at Fort Kent, Wilson Hess joined the Board. During his tenure at UMFK, Hess was an advocate for expanding access to college courses for high school students throughout the state, perhaps best known for his success in expanding early college access through the Bridge Year program and AP4ALL.

Hess was also once a history professor at Unity College; he also served as registrar and an assistant dean before being named President 13 years later, a position he held for over a decade.

Outside of the educational arena, Hess has coached and refereed lacrosse, served on boards such as the Maine Conservation School in Bryant Pond, the Maine Children’s Alliance, the Maine Charitable Foundation’s Waldo County Fund, the Town of Freedom’s Board of Selectmen and Budget Committee, the Northern Maine Development Council Aroostook Partnership for Progress and the Mitchell Institute.

Student Elise McKendry is a sophomore at Forest Hills Consolidated School and student representative to the community’s School Board, which has allowed her to embrace and demonstrate her true leadership qualities.

McKendry is a member of one of the first classes that will graduate through a proficiency-based system at Forest Hills Consolidated School, giving her a valuable perspective on proficiency that she can bring to the State Board of Education. She is involved in a number of extracurricular activities including Speech and Debate, Math Team, Book Club, Jackman Youth Leadership, golf among many others.

While the State Board receives some staff support from the Maine Department of Education, it is an independent body. For more information, visit the State Board of Education.


Maine Adult Education Celebration at the State House

Wednesday, March 2

AUGUSTA — The Maine Department of Education joins the Maine Adult Education Association in celebrating adult students on March 3 at the State House in Augusta. For the 2014-15 academic year over 50,000 Maine adults enrolled in academic, workforce and personal enrichment courses and 1,523 received their high school credential.

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Tax conformity matters to Maine teachers and families

Reprinted with permission from the Department of Administrative and Financial Services (DAFS).

AUGUSTA — As tax conformity legislation continues to make its way through the Maine Legislature, the Department of Administrative and Financial Services (DAFS) has heard from stakeholders in the education community asking about the effects of this proposal on teachers.

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Governor supports teachers and urges Democrats to do the same

Reprinted with permission from the Office of Governor Paul LePage.

AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage is urging teachers to contact Democrats in the Legislature and tell them to support the administration’s tax conformity bill that will provide teachers with tax benefits for school supplies they pay for out of their own pocket.

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February is Career and Technical Education month

AUGUSTA — Maine’s career and technical education schools and educators of applied technology and workforce development are being recognized during the month of February.

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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, the Child Nutrition Service, a division of the Maine Department of Education (Maine DOE), is now seeking out organizations who would like to participate in this federally funded Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), a program that provides children healthy meals when school is not in session.

“We all realize that children learn better when they have nutritious meals during the school day,” says Maine DOE Acting Commissioner William Beardsley. “Our long standing public school breakfast and lunch programs have served Maine children well. With federal assistance, Maine needs partners for the Summer Food Service Program.”

Last summer, 118 sponsors participated in the program, serving an average of 11,400 lunches a day to children at almost 400 sites reaching about 20 percent of eligible children. 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-price meals under the National School Lunch Program or where 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 mid-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 SFSP. Potential sponsors are required to take training courses. Current workshops are planned April 14 for new sponsors and March 16 for experienced sponsors. 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, call 624-6842, or visit


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination against its customers, employees, and applicants for employment on the bases of race, color, national origin, age, disability, sex, gender identity, religion, reprisal and, where applicable, political beliefs, marital status, familial or parental status, sexual orientation, or if all or part of an individual’s income is derived from any public assistance program, or protected genetic information in employment or in any program or activity conducted or funded by the Department. (Not all prohibited bases will apply to all programs and/or employment activities.)

If you wish to file a Civil Rights program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form online or at any USDA office, or call (866) 632-9992 to request the form. You may also write a letter containing all of the information requested in the form. Send your completed complaint form or letter to us by mail at U.S. Department of Agriculture, Director, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410, by fax (202) 690-7442 or email at

Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have speech disabilities and wish to file either an EEO or program complaint please contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339 or (800) 845-6136 (in Spanish).

Persons with disabilities, who wish to file a program complaint, please see information above on how to contact us by mail directly or by email If you require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) please contact USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.


Nominations sought for 2017 Maine Teacher of the Year

AUGUSTA — Nominations are now open for the 2017 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 through Feb. 8. 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.

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Maine recognizes significance of education act signed yesterday

Augusta – President Barack Obama yesterday signed the Every Student Succeeds Act saying this is a rare bipartisan agreement, which replaces the more rigid top-down statutory and regulatory structure of the old “No Child Left Behind Act.” Continue reading