PRIORITY NOTICE: Guidance on usage of additional state funds from 2017-2018 budget

The Department has received several requests from school administrative units for guidance regarding the interpretation of PL 2017 Chapter 284, Section JJJJJJJ. The Department offers this guidance with the caveats that 1) Differing legal interpretations may be put forth and in those instances, we would recommend consulting your school unit’s legal counsel and 2) this guidance applies to the fiscal year 2017-2018 only; no analysis has yet begun regarding the application of this section of statute to fiscal year 2018-2019.

The Department offers guidance on the following scenarios for fiscal year 2017-2018:

Scenario 1: The school administrative unit has passed a budget through all applicable stages and the budget did not include a warrant article to provide the school board with authority to use any additional state funds received.  Under this scenario, Section JJJJJJJ-4 would apply and provide 50% of the increase in subsidy to reduce the school administrative unit’s required local contribution.  For combined school administrative units (RSU, SAD or CSD), the Department’s suggested distribution of the 50% subsidy increase, based on the statutory language, is posted at the link below.  For combined school units with a Private & Special Law that amends the required local share calculation under 20-A § 15688, the Department suggests utilizing the required local contribution percentages as calculated under that Private & Special Law.

http://www.maine.gov/education/data/eps/fy18/index.html

Scenario 2: The school administrative unit has passed a budget through all applicable stages and the budget did include a warrant article providing the school board with the authority to use any additional state funds received.  Under this scenario, Section JJJJJJJ-5 applies and the school administrative unit may utilize the increase in subsidy as permitted under the approved article.

Scenario 3: The school administrative unit has not passed a budget.  This school administrative unit would present budget calculations which reflect the required local share and state subsidy amounts as displayed on the ED 279 dated July 12, 2017.  Section JJJJJJJ-5 would not apply as tax relief is provided via the reduction of the required mill expectation in the enacted ED 279.

Should you have questions or need additional clarification, please contact tyler.backus@maine.gov paula.b.gravelle@maine.gov or joanne.allen@maine.gov

PRIORITY NOTICE: Infinite Campus data entry to close at 12pm 7/13

As a reminder, as part of the planned closure of the Infinite Campus State Edition and transition to the new Synergy System, it is necessary for the Maine Department of Education (DOE) to end the 2016-2017 school year and remove access to update student data and enrollments as of 12:00pm on Thursday July 13, 2017.

In order to prepare for data migration from Infinite Campus State Edition (ICSE) to the new Synergy system and to prepare data for the new student reports in NEO, after 12:00pm on Thursday, July 13, 2017, Infinite Campus State Edition will no longer accept uploads for the 2016-2017 school year.

Users accessing ICSE will still be able to view student and enrollment data, and will be able to upload student personal data in order to get new statestudentids for students new to the Maine school system. For those new to uploading student personal data and getting statestudentids back from ICSE, the Helpdesk will be posting instructions for statestudentids to the following website:  http://www.maine.gov/doe/data/helpdesk.html

Maine DOE training for NEO and Synergy will be available during the weeks of July 24 and July 31. It is expected that new statestudentids will be generated from Synergy starting with the week of July 24, and users will receive instruction on those procedures at the trainings.

To register for NEO and Synergy trainings, please visit the following website: http://www.maine.gov/doe/data/training/2017/training_schedule.html

For questions regarding access to ICSE and how to gain statestudentids, please contact MEDMS.Helpdesk@maine.gov, 207-624-6896.

For questions regarding Synergy implementation, please contact charlotte.ellis@maine.gov, 207-624-6696

 

PRIORITY NOTICE: 2017-18 Enacted ED279 subsidy printouts now available

FY 2017-2018 ED 279 subsidy printouts, based on Public Law 2017 Ch. 284 are now available on the Department’s website: http://www.maine.gov/education/data/eps/epsmenu.htm

The 279 printouts reflect statutory changes to the funding formula as enacted by this legislation. (REMINDER: there will be a scheduled outage of the NEO system, where the 279s are available, from 7/13 – 7/17.)

A comparison of the State Contribution from the Not Yet Enacted Governor’s Recommended Funding Level to the Enacted Funding Level, is available at the following link: http://www.maine.gov/education/data/eps/fy18/index.html

As a reminder, Chapter 284, Part JJJJJJJ of the enacted budget bill contains language regarding required local action on the use of any increase in State subsidy. Please review this statutory language below and consult your school unit’s legal counsel should you need additional guidance. Please note that this section applies for both fiscal years 2017-18 and 2018-19.

Should you have questions regarding the subsidy printout, please contact the School Finance Team: tyler.backus@maine.gov; paula.b.gravelle@maine.gov; ida.batista@maine.gov

Public Law 2017 Ch. 284 PART JJJJJJJ

Sec. JJJJJJJ-4. 20-A MRSA §15690-A is enacted to read:

  • 15690-A. Local action on increase in state share percentage Notwithstanding section 1485, subsection 5, this section applies to school budgets adopted for fiscal years 2017-18 and 2018-19.
  1. Required reduction in local contribution. If the budget of a school administrative unit is based on assumptions that include an increase in state share, pursuant to section 15690, subsection 1, paragraph C, over the amount used in the most recent approved budget as the result of an increase in the state share of the school administrative unit’s total cost of funding public education from kindergarten to grade 12 under this chapter, the increase in state share must be used as follows.
  2. Fifty percent of the increase in state share pursuant to section 15690, subsection 1, paragraph C that is attributable to the increase in the state share over the state share amount used in the most recent approved budget must be used to lower the school administrative unit’s local contribution to the total cost of funding public education from kindergarten to grade 12.
  3. The remaining 50% may be used only to increase expenditures for school purposes in cost center categories approved by the local school board, increase the allocation of finances for a reserve fund or provide an additional amount to lower the required local contribution to the total cost of education.
  4. Warrant. If the budget of the school administrative unit is based on assumptions that include an increase in state share, pursuant to section 15690, subsection 1, paragraph C, over the amount used in the most recent approved budget as the result of an increase in the state share of the school administrative unit’s total cost of funding public education from kindergarten to grade 12 under this chapter, an article in substantially the form in paragraph A must be used to authorize the use of the increase in state share for the expenditures specified in subsection 1, paragraph B after the requirements of subsection 1, paragraph A are met.
  5. “Article…….: To see what sums will be appropriated for the following purposes from the amount of the anticipated increase in state share of the school administrative unit’s total cost of funding public education from kindergarten to grade 12 over the amount used in the most recent approved budget as the result of an increase in the state share of the school administrative unit’s total cost of funding public education from kindergarten to grade 12 under this chapter:

(1) (Amount appropriated) To increase expenditures for school purposes in cost center categories approved by the board (list of amounts by category should be provided);

(2) (Amount appropriated) To increase the allocation of finances in a reserve fund for the purpose of (name of reserve fund); and

(3) (Amount appropriated) To provide a decrease in the local contribution, as defined in the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 20-A, section 15690, subsection 1, paragraph A or B, section 15690, subsection 2 or section 15690, subsection 3 for local property taxpayers for funding public education.”

  1. If as a result of a vote on the article specified in paragraph A, subparagraph (3) a school administrative unit does not raise 100% of the required local contribution pursuant to section 15690, subsection 1, the school administrative unit may petition the commissioner to waive the required proration of the state share pursuant to section 15690, subsection 1, paragraph C.
  2. If the article is approved by the voters at the budget meeting, the board of the school administrative unit may increase expenditures for the purposes approved in the article without holding a special budget meeting and budget validation referendum.

Sec. JJJJJJJ-5. Permitted use of additional funding for 2017-18 school budget. Notwithstanding the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 20-A, section 15690-A, for school budgets for the 2017-18 fiscal year only, articles approved by the voters that earmarked additional state funding contributions for increased expenditures for school purposes in fiscal year 2017-18 are permitted as approved.

PRIORITY NOTICE: Restraint and Seclusion Overview and Awareness Information Course Available

In partnership with SafeSchools, the Maine DOE is providing a course to all Maine schools that is an overview of Chapter 33: Rule Governing Physical Restraint and Seclusion at no cost to the local school system.

In accordance with Chapter 33, “Annually, each covered entity shall provide overview and awareness information to all staff, including contracted providers, regarding the content of this rule and any local policies or procedures related to the use of physical restraint and seclusion” (Chapter 33, Section 4.2).

SafeSchools and Maine DOE collaborated to create this 25 minute, web based course specifically to address Chapter 33.

  • This course meets the Chapter 33 requirement of “annual notification of rule and local policies” (Section 4.2).
  • This course DOES NOT meet the requirement of having “a sufficient number of administrators or designees, general and special education staff, maintain certification in an approved training” (Section 12).

For approved trainings, visit http://www.maine.gov/doe/school-safety/restraints/approved.html

The Restraint and Seclusion Overview and Awareness Information Course can be presented in a small or large group setting, or on an individual basis. All staff of a “covered entity” receive individual logins. A description of this customized course can be found on SafeSchools’ Maine Courses page.

safeschoolslogoSarah Ricker, Student Assistance Coordinator, oversees guidance to schools and parents in regards to Chapter 33. Her work in creating this course with SafeSchools addresses the importance of ensuring that all teachers and administrators have consistent and accurate knowledge of Chapter 33 requirements so all students and staff feel safe and welcoming in their learning environment.

Download the Restraint and Seclusion Overview and Awareness Information Course flier here.

To register staff for the Restraint and Seclusion Overview and Awareness Information Course, contact Justin Moore at SafeSchools. He can be reached by calling 1-800-434-0154, ext 7028 or emailing at jmoore@safeschools.com.

 

 

Statement about the 2017-18 budget and how it will affect ED279s

As you likely know by now, the biennial budget was enacted on July 4, 2017, and included finalized funding levels for 2017-18 State school subsidies (Public Law 2017 Ch. 284 Part C). While the Department appreciates that school districts and local governments are eager for updated funding projections for each district, it is important to note that this legislation includes a number of statutory changes to the formula that will take time to incorporate into the ED279 computer system. The estimated date that new ED279s subsidy printouts will be available is no later than July 21.  As soon as these are available, a statement will be issued when the printouts have been posted to ED279 website at http://www.maine.gov/doe/eps/

The Department’s School Finance staff is working as quickly as possible, however they will need time to perform the necessary quality control steps to ensure that the amount for each school administrative unit is accurate.

It has come to our attention that other organizations have attempted to predict the amount of increase for each SAU. We caution you that these may not be accurate as they likely do not account for the formula changes that were enacted in Ch. 284. Only department issued amounts, which will be available on the ED279s when they are ready, should be used for budgeting purposes.

Also, please be aware that there is language in Ch. 284 Part JJJJJJJ of the enacted budget bill regarding the local action on any increase in their State subsidy and the use of the increased funds relating to requirements for reduction in local contribution and limitations on use of funds for increased expenditures. Please note that this section applies for both fiscal years 2017-18 and 2018-19 and may be found on page 817 of the budget bill, at the link below.

PL 2017 Ch. 284: http://legislature.maine.gov/ros/LawsOfMaine/breeze/Law/getDocById/?docId=57293

Please be assured that the Department is acutely aware of the need for updated information as soon as possible, and appreciates the difficulty that the delayed enactment of the state’s biennial budget has created on the local budgeting process for schools and municipalities. Our staff is committed to working as quickly as possible to provide you with the accurate information you need to finalize your budget. Thank you for your patience during this time.

PRIORITY NOTICE: Requirements for renewal of criminal history records check

Beginning July 1, 2017, the processing of renewal of criminal history records check for those individuals that have not been continuously employed will require a national criminal history records check in order to be in compliance with State law (20-A MRS §6103) and rules (05-71 Chapter 115 Part 1, Section 3.2).

Individuals that have not been continuously employed (interrupted service) will be required to be re-fingerprinted to renew their criminal history records check.

If an individual believes they have been continuously employed and not reported in the NEO staff system, verification of their continuous employment will be necessary. Verification of employment documents should be sent along with the renewal application.

Instruction for criminal history records check and fingerprinting are available at: http://www.maine.gov/doe/cert/fingerprinting/renewal-instructions.html

For more information please contact the Certification office at 207-624-6603 or cert.doe@maine.gov

PRIORITY NOTICE: Infinite Campus State Edition update and end of year reporting

As a reminder, due to a change in state level student information systems, the Maine Department of Education Infinite Campus State Edition (ICSE) will no longer be accessible on July 7, 2017, extended from the June 30, 2017 date that was initially posted.  Once ICSE is turned off, there will be no way for districts to complete end of year reporting.  Therefore, it is vital that the following end of year ICSE reports be completed prior to this date:

  • Attendance Certification
  • Truancy Certification
  • Behavior Certification
  • Special Ed Exit Certification

Student enrollments must also be ended, those moving out of state or out of the country, those going to private schools, those exiting to homeschool, and those graduated.  All of which include exiting them from special education if appropriate.  If you are also missing your EPS April report you should also strive to complete this overdue report prior to the July 7th date.

All reports due are listed on the Data collection and reporting (DC & R) calendar:
https://neo.maine.gov/DOE/neo/DCAR/Calendar

Reports found Infinite Campus ICSE:
https://maine.infinitecampus.org/campus/mese.jsp

Reports found in NEO:
https://neo.maine.gov/DOE/NEO/Dashboard/Home/Index/

For more information contact the MEDMS Helpdesk at (207) 624-6896.

PRIORITY NOTICE: MaineCare Seed payment adjustments to be made, review reports by July 7, 2017

The 2017-18 subsidy checks for General Purpose Aid for local schools will reflect adjustments in July 2017 for MaineCare Seed payments paid by the Maine DOE on behalf of school administrative units (SAUs) for the following:

  • 2017 Quarter 3 MaineCare payment adjustments

Detailed student reports for Quarter 3 are now available in Infinite Campus (State Edition). Instructions for accessing MaineCare Seed Payment Reports in Infinite Campus are available here. In July, the 2017-18 State subsidy printouts (ED279s) will be updated reflecting these adjustments and are available at www.maine.gov/doe/eps/. Reporting issues: To ensure accurate adjustments to subsidy, SAU staff must review student-by-student reports for Quarter 3 and report any issues on these reports no later than July 7, 2017. Any questions regarding these reports should be addressed to denise.towers@maine.gov. If you disagree that a particular student or time period should be on the report, please provide the reason that you disagree along with supporting evidence and also include the following:

  • Identify the type of report (Public or Private) and the quarter in which the claims are located
  • Student’s State Student ID
  • Service provided dates (to and from)
  • Total amount of Seed being disputed

Summer services: The Department has found that a number of students are provided services during the summer. If the student was a resident of your SAU during those months, your SAU is still fiscally responsible for the MaineCare Seed as this is considered an extended school year for these students. Students in extended school years must be enrolled during these periods to ensure accurate adjustments.   For more information on MaineCare Seed payments including links to prior communications, accounting instructions and instructions for accessing MaineCare Seed Payment Reports in Infinite Campus, please click here. For more information or technical assistance related to MaineCare Seed, please contact Denise Towers at Denise.towers@maine.gov.

PRIORITY NOTICE: Deadline for Small, Rural School Achievement funding is June 30th

This is an urgent reminder for those districts that are eligible to receive Small, Rural School Achievement (SRSA) funding.  Please note that June 30, 2017 is the final date to submit your grant application.  Your FY 2017 Small, Rural School Achievement (SRSA) grant application must be completely entered in Grants.gov by 4:30 p.m. in order to receive funding for 2017-18. In past years this money had been automatically set aside for you and because of the changes with ESSA, now you must complete the application annually.

To complete the application, your district must have a DUNS number that is active and registered in the System for Award Management, and you must register in https://www.grants.gov as an “Organization Applicant.” Additional details about the application process and requirements are available on the USDOE SRSA website’s Applicant Information page.

If you have not yet submitted your application, please do so as soon as possible before June 30. If you need assistance completing the application, consider attending one of the ongoing SRSA application walk-through web seminars sponsored by USDOE on the following dates:

For additional information, please contact Dan Weeks at Daniel.R.Weeks@maine.gov or 207-624-6749.

PRIORITY NOTICE: Maine DOE announces change in English learner reclassifications

Maine DOE has changed English learner reclassifications to Overall Composite Proficiency Level Score of 5 or greater on ACCESS 2.0.

Maine recently received its 2016-17 ACCESS 2.0 for ELLs scores and many of our English learners scored at proficiency levels lower than expected. This is because of a process that established new expectations for what scale score students must achieve in order to reach each proficiency level.

WIDA explains as follows: “The changes to students’ ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 proficiency level scores reflect the increased language demands of college and career readiness standards. WIDA raised the bar for language proficiency and students needed to showcase higher language skills in 2016–2017 to achieve the same proficiency level scores (1.0–6.0) in previous years. This is the result of a process to determine the student performance required for each proficiency level through a series of decisions made for each grade level by expert panels of teachers as well as district and state English language learner administrators.”

The following bullets are intended to clarify what has changed and what has not:

  • The ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 test questions did not get more difficult.
  • The scoring of the ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 domains did not change.
  • The same performance on the ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 in 2015-16 and in 2016-17 would also result in the same scale score.
  • The only change is in the scale score required to achieve each proficiency level (1-6).
  • At each level, in 2016-17, the student needed to achieve a higher scale score to reach a given proficiency level.
  • In other words, the same performance in 2015-16 and in 2016-17 would result in the same scale score, but the proficiency level score would be higher in 2015-16 than in 2016-17.
  • If parents or teachers want to know if a child’s English language proficiency improved from 2015-16 to 2016-17, they should compare the scale scores across the two years, but not the proficiency level scores.

The exit criterion in Maine has always been rigorous. We are currently the only state that requires a 6.0 proficiency score on the overall composite. After looking at our 2016-17 data, it is apparent that the 6.0 exit criterion is too high given the new cutscores for proficiency levels. We have therefore changed Maine’s exit criteria to a 5.0 proficiency level score. The 5.0 proficiency level in 2016-17 is similar to the 6.0 proficiency level in earlier years.

You may find the following materials helpful:

Direct questions about ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 and the educational or English language acquisition services for English learners to Nancy Mullins, Maine DOE ESL/Bilingual Programs, at nancy.mullins@maine.gov (207) 624-6788.