PRIORITY NOTICE: Maine DOE Launches Social Emotional Learning Curriculum

The Maine Department of Education is excited to announce the release of Maine’s first, state owned and free, PreK-12th grade Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Curriculum.

SEL4ME has been constructed by professionals with 50+ years of experience in education, student/parent engagement and staff/administrator professional development. Lessons are aligned with industry established best practices, are leveraged through an equity lens and include over 450 modules that cover PreK-12 scaffolded by grade.

Following research and findings from the Maine’s Opioid Prevention Task Force and Task Force on Childhood Trauma, incorporating SEL into education is evidenced to be a primary prevention and trauma informed practice and the DOE is dedicated to meeting the social emotional and mental health needs of our educators and students. The SEL4ME curriculum honors Maine’s strong history of social emotional learning and is flexible by design so that it can be used as an additional support for existing SEL, health or counseling programs, while also being a reliable and foundational way to enable schools to create brand new SEL programs across our State.

What we have here is only the beginning! The SEL4ME Team, consisting of diverse Maine experts and stakeholders, will continue to edit, add and develop new SEL content, ensuring that our State’s unique SEL needs are met. Moving forward, expect the curriculum to expand from classroom supports to include school and district wide resources in the structured, best practice use of SEL throughout school culture. While this curriculum is not a requirement, research shows that the benefits of incorporating social emotional learning into our schools are significant and the SEL Team will be providing free training and support to educators looking to use the SEL4ME curriculum.

We hope that every Maine educator will take advantage of this free, readily available and low barrier, SEL curriculum to supplement everyday classroom instruction or to assist with remote learning. We will continue to grow SEL4ME with your feedback and support!

Thank you for your dedication to Maine youth.

Please use these links below to access the new SEL4ME curriculum, trainings and support:

For further questions, please contact Kellie Bailey, Maine DOE Social Emotional Learning Specialist at Kellie.Bailey@maine.gov.

PRIORITY NOTICE: Verification of Minimum Teacher Salaries

Due Date: November 30, 2020 

In 2020-21, the State will provide each qualifying school administrative unit with the funding necessary to achieve the minimum salary for certified teachers established in Title 20-A, §13407. 

A “qualifying school administrative unit” means a school administrative unit the commissioner determines to have a locally established salary schedule with a minimum teacher salary of less than $35,000 in school year 2019-20.  The requirement to pay the $35,000 minimum is not contingent upon receipt of the State’s adjustment to subsidy.   

The minimum salary law does not distinguish between full-time and part-time teachers.  Full-time teachers must be paid a minimum salary of $35,000.  The minimum amount will be prorated for part-time teachers in proportion to their fulltime equivalency (FTE). 

Method of Allocation of State Funds to Qualifying School Administrative Units: 

The commissioner shall allocate funds provided to qualifying school administrative units per Title 20-A, §15689, sub-§7-A,(B), in accordance with the following: 

  1. The amount of increased funds provided to qualifying school administrative units under this subsection must be the amount necessary to fund the incremental salary increases specified in this subsection.   
  2. The number of teachers eligible for incremental salary increases in a qualifying school administrative unit for a fiscal year must be based on the information supplied to the department pursuant to section 13407 in that fiscal year.   
  3. The increased funds provided under this subsection must be issued to qualifying school administrative units as an adjustment to the state school subsidy for distribution to the teachers. Qualifying school administrative units shall use the payments provided under this subsection to provide salary adjustments to those teachers eligible for incremental salary increases. The department shall collect the necessary data to allow the funds to be included in a qualifying school administrative unit’s monthly subsidy payments beginning no later than February 1st of each fiscal year. 

Verification of Minimum Teacher Salary Report Instructions: 

The Minimum Teacher Salary Report is available in the NEO Staff Module under the Reports section.  The report is based on a snapshot of staff data entered by each school administrative unit for the FY 20 School Year from October 2019.  

This report should be reviewed by the Business Manager and then Certified by the Superintendent by November 30, 2020. 

Note: School administrative units that do not operate a school will have a blank report and do not need to certify the report. 

If you have questions about the report, or believe information is missing or is incorrect, please contact Paula Gravelle at paula.b.gravelle@maine.gov or 207-624-6792. 

Staff Eligibility for New Minimum Salary Requirements: 

Certified teachers in teaching positions employed by a qualified school administrative unit (as defined by 20-A, M.R.S. §1 (26) and 20-A, M.R.S. §15689 (7-A).)  This includes teaching positions paid with federal funds, and state or local grants, in classrooms or specialized areas (i.e. special education, EL, etc.).  Also included are school counselors, and library/media specialists. 

The following are the staff positions eligible for the minimum salary supplement: 

Classroom Teacher  School Social Worker 
Gifted and Talented Teacher  Special Education Teacher 
Guidance Counselor  Substitute Teacher – Long-term* 
Librarian/Media Specialist  Title I Teacher 
Literacy Specialist  *only for substitute classroom teachers replacing another teacher currently on leave. 

Method of Payment to a Qualifying School Administrative Unit: 

Once the Minimum Teacher Salary report has been certified by the Superintendent, an adjustment to the unit’s ED 279 Report (Section 5B) will be issued and payment included in the remaining monthly subsidy checks.  The adjustment to subsidy must occur no later than February 1st of each fiscal year. 

Method of Payment to Eligible Certified Teachers: 

The method of payment is at the discretion of the school administrative unit.  The adjustment amount is subject to all normal withholding requirements for tax and retirement purposes.Page Break 

Frequently Asked Questions: 

1.) Is teacher defined in statute? No 

  • Teacher vs teacher contract?  For purposes of the distribution of the minimum teacher salary adjustment, eligible staff are those employed by a SAUin a teaching position, and are certified (the certification may be conditional). 
  • Are federally paid teachers included? Yes 
  • State grant paid teachers?  Yes 
  • Does “teacher” reference both classroom and specialists ?  Yes,. 
  • What if a teacher works through an ESC or AOS?  AOS yes, ESC no as it is not a SAU  
  • What if other position types are locally considered teachers by the contract (librarians, Speech, etc.)? This is not the original intent in determining the amount of the appropriation needed but we are exploring the impact of expanding to those staff members employed under a teacher contract. 
  • What about CTE teachers? Teachers in CTE Centers only are eligible. 
  • If CTE teachers are included, what about those at a region (not a SAU) – CTE Regions are not SAUs therefore, they are not eligible under the enacted law. 
  • What about Charter School teachers? Yes 
  • What if they are not certified?  To be eligible, the teacher must be certified. 
  • What about MSSM teachers? No, MSSM is not a SAU. 
  • What about MECDHH teachers?  No, MECDHH is not a SAU. 
  • What about EUT teachers? No, EUT is not a SAU. 
  • What about CDS teachers? No, CDS is not a SAU. 
  • What about the teachers at Long Creek? No, Long Creek is not a SAU. 
  • What about teachers at the LongTerm Drug Treatment Programs?  Yes, if the teacher meets all the eligibility criteria under 1 (a). 
  • What about Special Education teachers at a regional program? Yes, if the teacher meets all the eligibility criteria under 1 (a). 
  • What about teachers at regional alternative education programs? Yes, if the teacher meets all the eligibility criteria under 1 (a). 
  • Or Waterville where the teachers are Waterville employees, but the program is run by a different agency? Yes, if the teacher meets all the eligibility criteria under 1 (a). 
  • What about PreK teachers at programs not directly operated by the SAU? No, as the teacher would not meet the eligibility criteria of being employed by a SAU. 

2.) Is this prorated? Yes 

  • What if a teacher works in multiple school districts?  The proration will be calculated and distributed accordingly. 
  • Part time teachers? The proration will be calculated and distributed accordingly. 

3.) Data Collection 

  • How to collect FY 2020 salary schedules – DOE will not need to collect individual SAU salary schedules; SAU Superintendents will receive a report of eligible staff from the NEO system and will be asked to certify the report. 

4.) Funding for the difference between $35k and their actual salary for the school year 

  • What happens if they negotiate their contract and make no increase to their salary schedule – the enacted statute directs SAUs to do so and DOE will trust that the SAUs follow statute.   
  • Is the calculation only based on their base salary (many teacher contracts include stipend negotiations within them)  Yes. 
  • What about teachers who work during the summer – the minimum teacher salary adjustment will be based on the base, contract salary as reported in NEO. 
  • Do we need to ensure they provided it to the teacher? The enacted statute directs SAUs to do so and DOE will trust that the SAUs follow statute.   
  • Is this being coded as salary, or do we want districts to differentiate it?  There is no reason for DOE to require a SAU to code this differently. 
  • Are the districts supposed to be providing it to them throughout the year, or lumpsum?  The distribution of the adjustment is at the discretion of the SAU. 
  • Will this affect the MSRS contributions especially in the case of federally and state grant paid teachers Yes, when the salary is increased by the SAU via the local contract, the increase will impact the amount of the contribution to MePERS. 

5.) Any additional reporting on their part? No 

 

PRIORITY NOTICE: USDA Extends School Meal Flexibilities Through 2020/2021 School Year; Webinar Available 10/14 at 1pm 

The State of Maine has accepted 12 waiver extensions from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) allowing for continued flexibilities in the federal Summer Food Service Program/Seamless Summer Option (SFSP/SSO) programs through the 2020/2021 school year. Originally set to expire on December 31, 2020, the waiver extensions will allow schools and other local program operators to continue to leverage SFSP/SSO federal food service programs to provide no cost meals options to all children through June 30, 2021.    

The waiver extensions allow school nutrition teams across the state to continue partnering with community organizations, to prepare and package food, set up food delivery service with school transportation teams, and create community pick-up locations (among many other methods) to ensure families have safe options for receiving food during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

We are really pleased that USDA continues to extend these necessary waivers to assist school nutrition programs across Maine with the funding and options they need to feed Maine kids during the pandemic,” said Walter Beesley, Maine Department of Education (DOE) Director of Child Nutrition. “We continue to work closely with district and school leaders to ensure they have the resources and state-level support needed to continue their work.” 

The Maine DOE is hosting a Child Nutrition webinar tomorrow 10/14/2020 at 1:00pm. School and district leaders, and school nutrition staff can register to attend this webinar here. 

The first round of USDA waivers for school meal programming began in March of 2020 at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic when schools around the country switched to emergency remote learning. The waivers have been extended numerous times throughout the summer and again this fall, with the most recent extension coming in late last week, that allows the flexibilities to continue through the end of the current school year.  

The waivers include:  

  1. COVID-19 Response #59 – Nationwide waiver to allow SFSP and SSO operations through SY 2020-21 – extension  
  2. COVID-19 Response #60 – Nationwide waiver to extend area eligibility waivers – extension #3 
  3. COVID-19 Response #61 – Nationwide waiver to allow non-congregate feeding in SFSP/SSO – extension #5 
  4. COVID-19 Response #62 – Nationwide waiver to allow parents and guardian to pick up meals for children – extension #5  
  5. COVID-19 Response #63 – Nationwide waiver to allow meal pattern flexibility in SFSP/SSO – extension #8 
  6. COVID-19 Response #64 – Nationwide waiver to allow area eligibility for closed enrolled sites in SFSP/SSO – extension #2 
  7. COVID-19 Response #65 – Nationwide waiver to waive first week site visits in SFSP – extension #2 
  8. COVID 19 Response #66 – Nationwide waiver of meal service time restrictions in SFSP/SSO – extension #2 
  9. COVID 19 Response #67 – Nationwide waiver to allow OVS flexibilities in SFSP – extension #2  
  10. COVID 19 Response #68 – Nationwide waiver of area eligibility in the CACFP at risk afterschool care component – extension  
  11. COVID 19 Response #69 – Nationwide waiver to allow reimbursement for meals served prior to notification of preapproval and provide flexibility for preapproval visits in SFSP – extension  
  12. COVID 19 Response #70 – Nationwide waiver to allow meal pattern flexibility in the Child Nutrition Programs – extension #5 

 All Maine children 18 and younger can apply to have a breakfast and lunch at no charge through the school in their community. Families interested in applying can do so by contacting their local school to complete a meal benefit applicationThe data from this form also supports other opportunities for local schools/districts such as educational grants and additional state subsidy for educational purposes.  

Maine DOE’s Child Nutrition team continues to process SFSP applications on an ongoing basis.  View an interactive map of schools providing meals through SFSP. Districts interested in applying for the SFSP can do so by contacting the Maine DOE’s Child Nutrition Team. 

Priority Notice: Maine DOE seeks public comment on waiving requirement that 21st CCLC programs operate only during non-school hours

In response to the unprecedented obstacles schools, teachers, students, and their families are facing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) has offered an additional waiver to state education agencies, pursuant to section 4201(b)(1)(A) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA).  Under Title IV, Part B of the ESEA, section 4201(b)(1)(A) requiring that 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) programs operate only during non-school hours or periods when school is not in session.  If granted, this waiver would allow 21st CCLC program providers in Maine to temporarily operate with greater flexibilities to better meet the needs to students and families during the 2020-2021 school year.

This waiver would grant the Maine Department of Education (DOE) temporary authority to permit its 21st CCLC programs to provide supplemental services when school is in session, but students are not receiving in-person instruction.  For example, it would be permitted that a teacher provides additional 21st CCLC-funded academic supports for a group of students during a remote learning day when those students are not otherwise engaged in facilitated instruction with their classroom teacher.

The Maine DOE continues to work diligently to support Maine’s schools and educational communities as the 2020-2021 school year begins.  Given the hybrid instructional approaches many schools have adopted this year, students may benefit from dedicated staff and enhanced resources to help with remote lessons, independent work, and other enrichment opportunities during the portion of the week when remote lessons learning is occurring.  It is for reasons such as these that the Maine DOE has chosen to pursue this waiver.

As part of the statutory requirements for seeking this waiver, the Maine DOE must solicit and respond to public comment on its waiver request as well as provide evidence of the available comment period.  This 15-day public comment period shall begin on September 29, 2020 and conclude on October 14, 2020.

Comments may be submitted to: travis.w.doughty@maine.gov

PRIORITY NOTICE: Maine DOE Sponsored Social Emotional Learning Curriculum Resource Coming Soon for Maine Schools

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) is committed to providing cutting edge resources so that the many benefits of Social Emotional Learning (SEL), for both students and adults, can be accessed by all Maine schools. SEL speaks to our Maine values, where schools and communities support all children in the development of a healthy sense of self, in learning lifelong skills to regulate and manage emotions, and the development of empathy while building healthy and positive relationships. On behalf of Commissioner Makin, we are proud to announce our very own Social Emotional Learning curriculum and resource, SEL4ME.

It is our hope that by offering this statewide, free, and readily available comprehensive SEL PreK-12th grade curriculum, that we will eliminate the financial burden for any Maine school district who wishes to embed SEL into their everyday instruction and school culture. The curriculum accommodates both in person and remote learning. Additionally, our DOE team will continue to develop this curriculum to include free training and professional learning for staff, as well as new modules that will support the use of SEL as a Trauma Informed, Primary Prevention within our schools. Through our statewide instruction, this curriculum can be a significant resource for all Maine students, regardless of age, race, gender, socio-economic status or religion, to recognize self-worth and feel connected and safe within a responsive and caring school community.

The Maine DOE has created a unique opportunity in partnering with Evolution Labs who, with input from Maine experts, has developed our best practice-aligned SEL library of more than 450 modules. These modules are not subject to ongoing license fees but are owned by the State, in perpetuity, ensuring this resource as a reliable foundation for SEL development for generations to come. While this scaffolded curriculum can enable a consistent content approach, within each lesson are built-in supports that include read aloud capabilities and translation into nearly 100 different languages- as well as educator guides and instructions.

We know that research into the use of SEL has long shown that schools who embed SEL into everyday instruction and school culture have a positive impact in the following areas:

  • Increased school safety
  • Reduction in bullying and violent behavior
  • Reduction in negative coping and disruptive classroom behavior
  • Increase in academic achievement
  • Student appreciation of self-worth
  • Healthy connections to others
  • Development of confidence, optimism
  • Development of self-compassion in the face of doubt and social challenges
  • Self-advocacy
  • Persistence and resiliency in the face of adversity
  • Responsivity to challenges and change
  • Embracing all cultures and the individuality of all humans
  • Solving conflicts and problem solving in a cooperative manner
  • Demonstrating genuine concern about the welfare of others

Maine has a proud history of promoting Social Emotional Learning in our schools. With some of our educators having used practices in classrooms for decades and districts investing in SEL trainings and programming, many Maine schools have experienced the benefits of providing SEL supports to students. In 2015, the Maine DOE adopted SEL for PreK education, and aligned Health and PE standards with a Social Emotional Learning framework. Now, In 2020, when the need for Social Emotional Supports are more significant than ever, the Maine DOE is excited to offer the SEL4ME curriculum as a way to share the benefits of SEL to all our students, and strengthen its impact as part of our academic success. This curriculum is not a requirement of Maine schools, but a means to supplement and support existing programs, as well as provide new programs with the resources to flourish.

We would like to express our sincere gratitude to every educator and school support staff who dedicate their lives to the betterment of all Maine students. Thank you for always teaching from the heart and supporting our students.