It is that time of year again for each school administrative unit (SAU) to submit annual school reports, including the annual approval report for the unit, certifying progress on the Comprehensive Education Plan. This is in accordance with 20-A M.R.S. Chapter 206 and Maine Department of Education (DOE) Rule Chapter 125, which requires information to maintain continued approval status for the (SAU) and all schools within it.
Public SAUs and schools complete the annual public school approval process in the NEO information system, verifying required information in the NEO Maine Schools and Public School Approval module.
NEO Maine Schools and Public School Approval Module: FY2020 Changes
Last year, NEO Maine Schools and Public School Approval were integrated into a one-step process, thereby allowing submission of both organizational information and school approval checklist items in one sitting. While this new efficiency was generally well-received, the Department learned that the new process presented some challenges in implementation, particularly for some types of public units that require differentiated formats of school approval. As a result, further improvements to the NEO system have been implemented as outlined below.
- NEO Public School Approval now delivers targeted school approval certification statements based on school administrative unit type, and has been revised to be more categorical in nature. This means that Superintendents will be responding to fewer questions, and only the questions that apply to the appropriate type of school.
- In an effort to reduce unnecessary text and make the school approval form more user-friendly, the Department has omitted non-critical citations from certification statements, instead providing a link to a public school approval requirements list with associated citations.
- The Department had several requests to “re-open” the NEO Public School Approval form to update specific items. While this is not part of the update process, NEO now allows communication between Superintendents and the DOE via the general comment field that appears at the bottom of the NEO Maine Schools and Public School Approval module. Responses entered here, by either the Department or by the Superintendent, will trigger emails regarding outstanding items.
- Finally, the Department will be able to access some additional coding options, issuing “Waivers” only in situations where exceptions are needed; while an “Approved” option can be selected for items that were initially outstanding but are then brought into compliance.
The Department very much appreciates the effort and feedback that was provided to inform the system improvements over the past year, and hope it continues. An important item to remember, that will not change, is that NEO information may be saved when partially finished to complete at a later time. While completing the approval process, the page should be saved often, as there is a relatively short time-out period.
Maine Schools and Public School Approval NEO Module Directions
We are currently working with a target date of May 3, 2019 for the opening of The NEO Maine Schools and Public School Approval module. The intent of an earlier opening date is to allow time before the current school year ends, and vacations begin, to complete this important task. This change will also support an improved student enrollment upload process in the fall.
The Maine Schools portion is to inform the DOE of school and district contact information, changes in grade spans, and other school-related information. As a preliminary step, the superintendent or chief administrator of the school must first be entered into the NEO Staff Module. Access to NEO staff can be obtained by submitting a NEO Access Request Form to the DOE Data Helpdesk.
To begin: Log in to the NEO information system. Click on Maine Schools. If you do not see this option on your menu, and are a superintendent, technical coordinator, or administrative assistant, please contact the DOE Data Helpdesk.
Filling out the Maine Schools and Public School Approval Module: All fields with the exception of Administrative Office Fax are required. PO Boxes will not be accepted in the “Physical Address” box. Mailing address is needed only if different from Physical address. The Cost Center information references the three-digit code that the business office uses in the public financial system to assign building level costs (may require two codes).
Next, carefully mark all SAU level approval questions with a response, and if the response is “No, or partially No,” a comment must be entered. Additionally, mark to answer the school level approval question for each school listed.
As you move down the module/form, ensure that the SAU- and school-level section question is checked for each section: “Please confirm that the above section has been reviewed…”
At the bottom, date, sign and submit the form.
For questions related to the NEO information system or access, please contact the DOE Data Helpdesk at MEDMS.Helpdesk@maine.gov or 207-624-6896
Please contact Pamela Ford-Taylor, DOE School Enrollment Specialist at 207-624-6617 or Pamela.Ford-Taylor@maine.gov with questions or comments.