PRIORITY NOTICE: Resources to help schools keep students and school staff safe

Maine schools have long taken security seriously, working with local fire, police, and County Emergency Management Agencies to update emergency operations plans and exercise those plans at the local level.

Maine has worked at the State and local levels to strengthen the safety and security of its schools. Efforts have included free day-long security workshops in partnership with the Maine Principals’ Association and Maine School Management Association in addition to extensive tools to inform local planning, training, and preparation.

A 2014 Legislative report on the preparedness and facility security of Maine schools created by national and local experts praised the positive climates in Maine schools.

However, in light of recent high profile national incidents, the Department is reminding districts of resources available to support schools in their ongoing efforts to keep students and school staff safe.

Available on the Maine Department of Education website are, a free school security guide created for Maine DOE by Safe Havens International entitled Twenty Simple Strategies to Safer and More Effective Schools and a similar resource specific to building safety entitled Seven Important Building Design Features to Enhance School Safety and Security.  These guides are evidence-based strategies.

In addition, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has available a cyber security awareness campaign called Stop.Think.Connect. which focuses on raising awareness about how to be safer and more secure online.

After a horrific incident like what happened recently in Florida, people want to take action. The safest response is to slow down, have local conversations about security (schools, fire, police, and county emergency management agencies), and take account of what is in place first before taking action.

For more resources, including training and emergency operations planning, from Maine DOE and its emergency planning partners, visit: http://www.maine.gov/doe/security/ or contact Pat Hinckley at 624-6886 or by email at pat.hinckley@maine.gov .

PRIORITY NOTICE: Maine DOE seeks public comment for science standards

As part of the scheduled periodic review of the Maine Learning Results, the Maine Department of Education is seeking public comments regarding the current science standards.

The science standards are based on the National Research Council’s 1996 National Science Education Standards and include both processes (ways scientists investigate and communicate about the natural world) and bodies of knowledge (concepts, principles, facts, theories). Technology includes the design process and the study of technological tools and their effects on society. The standards are broken into grade spans (pK-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-Diploma) and the five MLR standards for Science and Technology are organized as follows:

  • A – major themes that unify science and technology ideas, e.g. systems, models, constancy and change, scale
  • B – skills and traits of scientific inquiry and technological design
  • C – history and nature of science and the impacts on society
  • D – earth, space and physical science
  • E – life science

The standards review process opens with public comments and public hearings prior to the convening of writing teams that will review and revise the science standards.  Public hearings will occur on the dates and locations listed below and are intended to give anyone the opportunity to weigh-in on the direction of future science standards in Maine. Anyone may speak at the public hearings which will be live-streamed.  People wishing to speak will be asked to sign in and it will be helpful, but not mandatory, to provide a written copy of their comments.

  • February 27, 2018 – Cross Office Building, room 103, 111 Sewell Street, Augusta, 4:00 – 6:00pm
  • February 28, 2018 – Houlton High School Library, 7 Bird Street, Houlton, 4:00 – 6:00pm
  • March 1, 2018 – Westbrook Middle School Cafeteria, 471 Stroudwater St, Westbrook, 4:00 – 6:00pm

Anyone unable to attend the public hearing may send written comments by 5 pm on March 16th, 2018. Written comments may be emailed to sis.doe@maine.gov with the subject “Science Standards Review” or mailed to Maine Department of Education, attn: Paul Hambleton, 23 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333.

Please note that the Department will also be conducting a review of the social studies standards. Public hearing dates will coincide with the dates announced in his notice (with different times so that attendees can plan accordingly).

For further information about the standards review process contact Beth Lambert at Beth.Lambert@maine.gov.

PRIORITY NOTICE: Maine DOE seeks public comment for social studies standards

As part of the scheduled periodic review of the Maine Learning Results, the Maine Department of Education is seeking public comments regarding the current social studies standards.

The social studies standards include four content areas (Civics and Government, Economics, Geography, History) and a strand about the application of social studies processes, knowledge, and skills. Each strand breaks down the standard into performance indicators and descriptors by grade bands (K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-Diploma). The standards also include an introduction and a section of key ideas in the social studies standards.

The standards review process opens with public comments and public hearings prior to the convening of writing teams that will review and revise the social studies standards.  Public hearings will occur on the dates and locations listed below and are intended to give anyone the opportunity to weigh-in on the direction of future social studies standards in Maine. Anyone may speak at the public hearings which will be live-streamed.  People wishing to speak will be asked to sign in and it will be helpful, but not mandatory, to provide a written copy of their comments.

  • February 27, 2018 – Cross Office Building, room 103, 111 Sewell Street, Augusta, 6:00 – 8:00pm
  • February 28, 2018 – Houlton High School Library, 7 bird Street, Houlton, 6:00 – 8:00pm
  • March 1, 2018 – Westbrook Middle School Cafeteria, 471 Stroudwater St, Westbrook, 6:00 – 8:00pm

Anyone unable to attend the public hearing may send written comments by 5 pm on March 16th, 2018. Written comments may be emailed to sis.doe@maine.gov with the subject “Social Studies Standards Review” or mailed to Maine Department of Education, attn: Paul Hambleton, 23 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333.

Please note that the Department will soon be making a similar announcement for the science standards review. Public hearing dates will coincide with the dates announced in his notice (with different times so that attendees can plan accordingly). Further details will be forthcoming. This notice has been edited to include Science standards review notice.

For further information about the standards review process contact Beth Lambert at Beth.Lambert@maine.gov.

PRIORITY NOTICE: Widespread Influenza in Maine

The following message has been provided by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Influenza activity in Maine is widespread with laboratory confirmed influenza reported in all counties. Influenza A/H3, and influenza B have been confirmed in Maine indicating both strains are circulating.  Maine CDC has followed up on 52 outbreaks of influenza as of Thursday January 25, 2018. Influenza vaccination is still strongly encouraged and is widely available, especially to protect those persons at risk of severe disease.  The vaccine appears to be a good match to three strains (A/H1, B/Yamagata, B/Victoria) this year, and it is not too late to get vaccinated.  Nationally, the majority of the circulating A/H3 strains are not a good match to the vaccine.  Maine specific data is not available at this time, but it is assumed to be similar to the national picture.  Vaccination is still recommended as it will protect against the other three strains, and it may offer cross protection and decrease the severity of illness.

What can Maine schools do to prevent and control influenza?

  • Report outbreaks: Report outbreaks of any illness, defined as student absenteeism rates >15%, immediately to Maine CDC.  Submit > 15% absenteeism reports through the Department of Education NEO Dashboard Absenteeism Reporting application (for more information, see http://maine.gov/education/sh/contents/AbsenteeReportingNEOSHM.3.2017.pdf).  Field epidemiologists are available to provide consultation on infection control.  Reports may also be called to 1-800-821-5821.
  • Promote health among students and staff: Encourage students, parents, teachers and staff to be aware of their health and to identify early if they have influenza-like illness (defined as fever of 100 degrees or greater, plus sore throat and/or cough).  Promote four steps to prevent flu: wash hands, cover cough, stay home if sick, and get vaccinated.   Individuals should stay home until 24 hours after fever resolves without the use of fever reducing medications.
  • Increase environmental cleaning: Frequently clean high touch surfaces, like door knobs, desks, and light switches – this helps break down the presence of the virus in the environment.
  • Review school policy on sickness and health: Review with staff your school policy on illness among students and staff.  Invite the school nurse or physician to speak at a staff meeting or school board meeting to promote prevention of influenza.  Consider steps the school will take in the event of continued elevated absenteeism.

Where can I find more information? 

PRIORITY NOTICE: 2018/19 subsidy printouts (ED279s) available with detailed explanation of funding changes

The fiscal year 2018-2019 ED 279 subsidy printouts are now available: http://www.maine.gov/doe/eps/

The subsidy printouts are provided based on $1.1 billion in funding allocated to education in the 2018/19 Biennial Budget that was enacted by the Maine State Legislature. See the trend in education funding from 2011 – 2019.

As a reminder, a number of EPS funding formula changes were also enacted as part of the budget. Many of these changes were made to both increase funds to education and to target more funds toward classroom expenditures. Provided below is a detailed list of the changes along with other important factors that impact EPS funding formula calculations.

Funding changes enacted in the budget:

  • Essential Programs and Services (EPS) Operating Transition Percentage – What is recognized as essential programs and services has increased from 97% to 100% due to a repeal of the EPS transition percentage. This means that the formula now recognizes 100% total cost allocation as calculated by the formula for each district. The 3% increase has resulted in over $42 million increased funding for education.
  • Funds for Special Education – There were several changes enacted that resulted in more funding to special education students. These changes have resulted in an increase of $30 million in funding for special education:
    • The weight for special education students increased from 1.27 per student to 1.50 per student. This change provides more funding to districts with higher number of special education students.
    • The Special Education Adjustment made for minimum receivers has increased from 33% to 40%.
    • Incentives are provided to public schools that place special education students in regional special purpose schools closer to home versus placing students in private schools further away.
    • The Special Education Budgetary Hardship Fund is now available for districts to apply for additional special education funding when they receive high cost special education student/s during the current school year, rather than wait for the coming year to receive extra funding.
  • Career & Technical Education (CTE) – Allocation for Career and Technical Education (CTE) is now based on a program-driven cost model, which bases the calculation of state subsidy on the following components: direct instruction, central administration, supplies, operation and maintenance of plant, other student and staff support, and student enrollment. As part of this model, State subsidy payments will be made directly to Career and Technical Education Centers and Regions and replaces both state and local share for the costs included in the model. Going forward, assessments will only be necessary for costs outside/above the model, such as new equipment or costs not covered by the model. FY19 CTE Centers & Regions Summary Estimate Funding Levels.
  • Additional Public Preschool funding – An additional $10 million in funding has been specifically allocated toward new and expanded public preschool programs.
  • Town valuation – Each town’s valuation is provided by the Maine Revenue Service each year and is part of the calculation that determines the town’s ability to pay local share. Previously the amounts used were determined based on the average valuation of the previous 3 years for each town. This coming fiscal year they will be based on an average of the previous 2 years. This change has created an increased “ability to pay” for some towns resulting in a higher required local share.
  • Student-to-Teacher ratio for New Early Childhood programs –  The student to teacher ratio for programs for 4-year-old through kindergarten has changed from 17 – 1 to 15 – 1. This change has resulted in an $8 million increase in funding.
  • Funding for System Administration – Allocation for system administration has gone from a rate of $135 per pupil in FY18 to $92 per pupil in FY19. Districts pursuing a Regional Service Center as part of Chapter 123 were allotted an additional $46 per pupil, pending approval of round II applications.
  • Basic pupil count – The pupil count used in EPS calculations is based on an average of the previous two year’s October pupil counts (reported by each district). Previously, it was based on the average of the most recent October and April counts.
  • State share percentage has grown – The average State share percentage has grown to 53.02%. The previous year was 52.02%.

Other important factors that impact EPS calculations:

  • Mil Rate – The Mil Rate, which is used as part of the calculation that determines each towns ability to pay required local share is 8.51. Previously the Mil Rate was 8.19.
  • Student enrollment – A dramatic increase or decrease in student enrollment has a major impact on funding because the EPS funding formula’s major driver is student population.
  • Changes in debt service payments – Districts that have either paid off or begun to pay principal or interest payments for equipment (new school, new bus, etc.), that the State has allocated funds to pay those payments could see dramatic changes in calculations if either payments no longer need to be made or if payments have begun.

Further information about FY 19 EPS can be found on the Maine DOE website.

Districts that have questions regarding subsidy printouts can contact the School Finance Team: Tyler Backus at tyler.backus@maine.gov; Paula Gravelle at paula.b.gravelle@maine.gov; or Ida Batista at ida.batista@maine.gov.

Media that have questions about school funding should contact Director of Communications, Rachel Paling at rachel.paling@maine.gov or (207)624-6747

PRIORITY NOTICE: Guidance for Changes to Career and Technical Education Funding

Beginning with fiscal year (FY) 2018/2019 state funding for education, the State allocation for Career and Technical Education (CTE) will be based on a program-driven cost model, which bases the calculation of state subsidy on the following components: direct instruction, central administration, supplies, operation and maintenance of plant, other student and staff support, and student enrollment.

State subsidy payments will be made directly to Career and Technical Education Centers and Regions. In this model, State subsidy will replace both state and local share for the costs included in the model, which should provide relief to assessment payments that sending schools would have previously received. Going forward, local assessments will only be necessary for costs outside/above the model, such as new equipment or costs not covered by the model.

When the FY 2018/2019 ED279 subsidy printouts are released, SAUs and school board members should consider these changes as they review their state allocation and move toward setting a 2018/2019 budget.

As a reminder, the ED279s are on track for release by the February 1 statutory deadline.

Further details about the new model can be found in the CTE Model Executive Summary. Further questions about funding can be directed to Tyler Backus at Tyler.Backus@maine.gov and questions about CTE operations can be directed to Paul Hambleton at Paul.Hambleton@maine.gov.

PRIORITY NOTICE: Additional training dates for Comprehensive Needs Assessment and SAU Consolidated Plan

As a result of the substantial response to technical assistance sessions for support regarding the development and completion of a Comprehensive Needs Assessment and SAU Consolidated Plan, as required under the recently reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the Maine Department of Education has expanded the training schedule.

Completed SAU Consolidated Plans must be submitted to the Maine Department of Education on or before July 1, 2018. The utilization of the CNA and SAU Consolidated Plan template will ensure all required elements are included.

The Department has expanded upon the following training schedule to support SAU Data Coordinators, SAU and school staff as they complete the Comprehensive Needs Assessment and SAU Consolidated Plan. Registration can be completed through the session title hyperlinks below.

Data Collection – Remains unchanged
The target audience for this session is SAU Data Coordinators and will provide an overall view of the template document. Please ensure participant has log-in credentials to NEO for all applicable modules. Tandberg is available.
Tuesday February 13, 2018
9 AM – 12 Noon
Augusta, Cross State Office Building, Room 103

Work session – Extended timeframe & change in location
The target audience for this session is SAU and school staff completing the CNA/SAU Consolidated Plan. Morning timeframe will focus on sections 3-6, afternoon timeframe to focus on sections 7-10. You may attend one or both sessions.
Tuesday February 6, 2018
9 am – 3 pm
Capital Area Technical Center, 7 Pierce Dive, Augusta, ME 04330
(1 pm – 4 PM Augusta, Cross State Office Building, Room 541)

Work session – Remains unchanged
The target audience for this session is SAU and school staff completing the CNA/SAU Consolidated Plan. Session to focus on sections 3-6 only. Tandberg is available.
Tuesday March 6, 2018
8:30 AM – 12 Noon
Augusta, Cross State Office Building, Room 541

Work session – Additional date added
The target audience for this session is SAU and school staff completing the CNA/SAU Consolidated Plan. Morning timeframe will focus on sections 3-6, afternoon timeframe to focus on sections 7-10.
Friday March 9, 2018
9 am – 3 pm
Capital Area Technical Center, 7 Pierce Drive, Augusta, ME 04330

Data Dive and Evaluation – Remains unchanged The target audience will be central office and plan development team members who will examine the data to determine root cause and next steps. The group will be divided into two groups for a work session: Group 1 – NWEA data, Group 2 – STAR data.
Monday March 19, 2018
9:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Augusta, Cross State Office Building, Room 103

Available resources to assist SAUs to complete the SAU Consolidated Plan include:

  • Guidance Document –  – This document provides guiding questions for SAUs to ponder and respond to when completing the CNA. The SAU Consolidated Plan will be developed after the CNA is completed.
  • Question and Answers – This document contains a summary of all questions posed during technical assistance sessions.

In order to register for the upcoming professional development sessions, please click on the hyperlinks included below. By clicking on the appropriate link, you will be brought to a registration form.

For further information please contact Janette Kirk, Deputy Director, Office of Learning Systems at (207) 624-6707 or Janette.Kirk@maine.gov