In accordance with 20-A M.R.S. Chapter 117, the Maine Department of Education (DOE) requires private schools seeking approval status to be approved annually.
Private School Approval Process Updates
As indicated in last year’s guidance (July 12 and October 2), the 2019-2020 private school approval annual report submission deadline is moving to an earlier date than previous years and will align with the public school approval year (July 1 to June 30). There is also a new target opening date for FY2020 NEO Maine Schools, so that the task of verifying organization information can be completed early. This change will support an improved student enrollment upload process in the fall. The Department urges private schools to submit complete information as early as possible for FY2020, and reach out early to resolve any questions or issues. Any requested funding for publicly funded students will be contingent on the process of basic school approval, following by receipt of the Year-End Report of Private Schools (Form EF-M 240).
All private schools seeking approval status must, in addition to the organizational piece in NEO Maine Schools, enter required staff information into the NEO staff module. The most reported barrier for private schools undergoing basic school approval in FY2019 was related to clearance (CHRC) and certification issues during Department implementation of a new certification system. A significant temporary backlog in certification office processing times, and mismatched or inaccurate NEO staff entry by the private school, were the most common causes of the resulting delays in certification issue resolution. The Department urges private schools to review instructions at https://www.maine.gov/doe/data-reporting/collection/helpdesk/resources/staff-dataentry-guides, and contact the Help Desk with questions regarding the proper way to enter staff information in the NEO information system. The Certification office backlog issue has been rectified.
Private School Approval and NEO
Maine Schools NEO Module
The NEO Maine Schools form is required by all public and private schools to inform the Maine Department of Education of school and district contact information, changes in grade spans, and other school-related information. As a preliminary step, in order for an organization to be updated in Maine Schools, 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 (Excel) form to the MDOE Data Helpdesk.
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 (for private schools, this is the chief administrator of school), technical coordinator, or administrative assistant, please contact the MEDMS Helpdesk at MEDMS.Helpdesk@maine.gov or 207-624-6896.
Filling out the Maine Schools 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.
At the bottom, check the box to confirm that all information has been reviewed before signing and submitting the form.
Staff NEO Module
For security and privacy purposes, all staff information must be properly entered in the NEO Staff module. The School Approval office utilizes only the NEO public portal Staff Positions search function, together with internal staff violations reporting, to verify that all staff have appropriate certifications and/or clearance. Neither certification nor clearance information should be manually or electronically submitted in any format with school approval materials. This ensures that private information is not being relayed in an unsafe manner.
Private School Annual School Approval Report and Documentation
The annual report is submitted separately from the NEO system, with related documentation, to Maine DOE’s School Enrollment/Approval Specialist, either electronically (email, preferred) or by mail. The NEO requirements need not be completed prior to the submission of the annual report; however, school approval will not be issued until the NEO information is complete and verified.
2019-2020 Approval Reports and requirement checklists are linked below, and also available from the updated Private School Approval web page. If unsure of which form is appropriate for your needs, please contact Pamela Ford-Taylor, School Enrollment/Approval Specialist.
Private School Reporting
School approval includes the requirement that all private schools provide attendance data on their publicly funded students in the Synergy student information system.
Currently, every private school that seeks tuition from a school administrative unit is already entering information into the Synergy student information system for each student for whom they seek public funds. The attendance data entry is comprised of the number of days in the reporting period that the student is enrolled, the number of days they were present, and the number of days of excused absences. This data needs to be updated and reviewed quarterly and certified on June 30th.
Subsidy will as always be dependent on accurate reporting of October 1st enrollment counts. In order for an accurate enrollment count and to ensure that private schools are on track to receive the appropriate tuition allocation, the following guidelines should be closely followed:
- In order for attendance data to be submitted, NEO Maine Schools organizational information must have been submitted and approved. If Maine Schools is not submitted, enrollment and attendance cannot be uploaded and EPS cannot be processed;
- The first instance of submitting attendance for publicly funded students at private schools, which is due quarterly, must be entered by October 15 and includes the attendance period July 1 through September 30. The next reporting period (to be entered by January 15) will require updated attendance numbers through December, and so on. More details about attendance data submission, and a helpful training manual document, can be found in Student Attendance Reportingand Attendance Manual Entry Guide.
- Publicly funded October 1ststudent enrollment data must be entered by October 15; certified by October 31.
Please contact the MEDMS Help Desk at 624-6896, or MEDMS.Helpdesk@maine.gov for assistance with NEO or the student information system. Please contact the DOE Certification Team at cert.DOE@maine.gov for certification system questions. Please contact Paula Gravelle at 624-6792 or Paula.B.Gravelle@maine.gov for questions about tuition. And, for questions about school approval please call Pamela Ford-Taylor at 624-6617, or Pamela.Ford-Taylor@maine.gov.