Education Committee Schedule - April 13-17, 2009

Education and Cultural Affairs Committee
Week of April 13 – April 17, 2009

Monday, April 13: 

Public Hearings
1:00 p.m. –

LD 1126: An Act To Limit the Scope of Miscellaneous Costs within the General Purpose Aid for Local Schools Appropriation, Senator Trahan; Co-sponsors: Reps. Finch, McKane, Pendleton, Pieh, Richardson, Schatz; Senators Nutting, Raye, Weston

...amends the law concerning the various elements of the "miscellaneous costs" component of the general purpose aid for local schools appropriation, or GPA appropriation. The premise of the bill is that the GPA appropriation should be either a general purpose subsidy to local schools or a state expenditure that provides direct educational services to students who would otherwise be served by the State's public elementary or secondary schools. The bill eliminates the Commissioner of Education's authority to use GPA funds to pay the personnel costs for a range of state employees who work for the Department of Education and provide only indirect support to the public education system. The bill eliminates a similar authority to use GPA funds to pay for the personnel costs of 3 teachers employed by the Department of Corrections. The bill also eliminates the authority to use GPA funds to pay for general education research conducted by the University of Maine, but it retains the authority to use GPA funds to cover a contract with the university to monitor and update the essential programs and services school funding model.

LD 1221: An Act To Remove the Local Requirement for Education Funding, Senator Courtney

...provides that if a school administrative unit adopts a credible budget that is below the maximum state and local spending target under the Essential Programs and Services Funding Act the school administrative unit's required contribution must be reduced by the amount of the savings.

LD 1225: An Act To Amend the School Funding Formula Regarding School Administrative Units That Are Eligible for the Minimum State Share of Their Total Allocation, Rep. Johnson; Co-sponsors: Reps. Crockett, Davis, Eaton, MacDonald, McFadden, Schatz

...provides that a school administrative unit that is eligible for the minimum state share of its total allocation under the Essential Programs and Services Funding Act may also be eligible for an additional adjustment when the school administrative unit meets certain eligibility criteria for an economically disadvantaged school administrative unit:

     1. The local median household income of each municipality in the school administrative unit is less than the statewide median household income; and.

     2. At least 30% of the students in the school administrative unit are economically disadvantaged students as calculated pursuant to the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 20-A, section 15675, subsection 2.

     A school administrative unit that meets these eligibility criteria must receive an additional adjustment to the state share of its total allocation.

LD 1227: An Act To Equalize the Regional Salary Cost Index under the School Funding Formula, Rep Johnson; Co-sponsors: Clark, Crockett, Eaton, Knight, MacDonald, McFadden, Schatz, Thomas

...requires that, beginning in fiscal year 2010-11, the regional adjustment to the salary and benefits costs of teachers and other school personnel that is based on labor market areas in the State must be 1.0 for all labor market areas in the State.

LD 1298: An Act To Adjust the Special Education Funding for Minimum Subsidy Receivers, Rep. Dostie; Co-sponsors: Reps. Clarke: Finch, Fitts, Fletcher, Gilbert, McFadden; Senator Nutting

...adjusts the subsidy for special education for those school administrative units that are minimum receivers of state subsidy by reducing the transition percentage for special education costs to 25%.

LD 1414: An Act To Amend the Laws Governing Spending by School Administrative Units, Rep. Pingree

...allows a school administrative unit to exceed its maximum state and local spending target under the Essential Programs and Services Funding Act by the higher of 5% over the state and local spending target or an amount equal to the unit's previous year's budget multiplied by the rate of growth of the current year's maximum state and local spending target over the previous year's maximum state and local spending target without having to have the amount approved by referendum. This bill creates new referendum language for a school administrative unit that exceeds its maximum state and local spending target.

 

Work Sessions

3:30 p.m. –

 

MEPRI Report on EPS Road Map

LD 190: Resolve, Directing the Department of Education To Convene a Stakeholders Group To Analyze the School Funding Formula, Rep. Johnson; co-sponsors: Reps. Browne, Cray, Gifford, Lewin, Pinkham, Sarty, Schatz, Tilton, Senator Smith

…directs the Department of Education to convene a stakeholders group to analyze the school funding formula. The department must present a plan and timeline to the Joint Standing Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs by May 1, 2009 and a report with its recommendations by November 1, 2009. The Joint Standing Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs may submit legislation to the Second Regular Session of the 124th Legislature.

LD 551: An Act To Improve the Essential Programs and Services Funding Formula, Rep. Finch

...a concept draft pursuant to Joint Rule 208. This bill proposes to enact measures designed to improve the essential programs and services funding formula.

 

Tuesday, April 14:

 

Public Hearings

1:00 p.m. –

 

LD 1097: An Act To Improve Alternative Organizational Structures by Requiring the Department of Education To Provide Them with Estimated Allocations, Senator Raye; co-sponsors: Reps. Burns, Johnson, McFadden, Schatz, Soctomah, Sutherland, Tilton; Senators Schneider, Weston

...requires the Commissioner of Education to also provide the governing body of alternative organizational structures with the computation and the amount of the allocation of school subsidy that the commissioner has estimated for the alternative organizational structure and each member entity in the alternative organizational structure.

 

LD 1129: An Act To Permit Efficient School Districts To Opt Out of Consolidation, Senator Courtney

...authorizes a school administrative unit to submit an alternative plan when the school unit spends less on kindergarten to grade 12 education than its total operating allocation under the Essential Programs and Services Funding Act for fiscal year 2008-09. This bill also eliminates penalties that would otherwise apply to such school administrative units.

LD 1203: An Act To Allow Certain School Units To Reorganize without Meeting Minimum Student Population Requirements without Being Penalized, Rep Sutherland; Senator Alfond; Reps. Finch, Johnson, Lovejoy, McFadden, Nelson

...authorizes school administrative units to submit alternative plans in situations when they have been unsuccessful in reorganizing into a regional school unit that meets minimum student population requirements. This bill also eliminates penalties that would otherwise apply to such school administrative units.

LD 1283: An Act To Reform the School Budget Validation Process, Senator Weston;

...amends the school budget approval process by allowing a budget to be approved at a school board meeting rather than a district-wide meeting, and then go directly to referendum vote. The bill also changes slightly the wording on the required referendum if a school budget exceeds the maximum state and local spending target.

LD 1336: An Act To Preserve School Choice Rights, Senator Weston;

...bill clarifies the obligation and financial responsibility of regional school unit boards of directors for preserving the opportunities for choice of schools for students who reside in a municipality in a regional school unit that was a previous education unit that sent students to another school administrative unit. The bill provides that when one or more member municipalities continue to send students to a school outside of the new regional school unit, the regional school unit is responsible for the tuition expenses for the students who are educated outside of the regional school unit.

 

Work Sessions

3:00 p.m. –

LD 1126: An Act To Limit the Scope of Miscellaneous Costs within the General Purpose Aid for Local Schools Appropriation, Senator Trahan; Co-sponsors: Reps. Finch, McKane, Pendleton, Pieh, Richardson, Schatz; Senators Nutting, Raye, Weston

...amends the law concerning the various elements of the "miscellaneous costs" component of the general purpose aid for local schools appropriation, or GPA appropriation. The premise of the bill is that the GPA appropriation should be either a general purpose subsidy to local schools or a state expenditure that provides direct educational services to students who would otherwise be served by the State's public elementary or secondary schools. The bill eliminates the Commissioner of Education's authority to use GPA funds to pay the personnel costs for a range of state employees who work for the Department of Education and provide only indirect support to the public education system. The bill eliminates a similar authority to use GPA funds to pay for the personnel costs of 3 teachers employed by the Department of Corrections. The bill also eliminates the authority to use GPA funds to pay for general education research conducted by the University of Maine, but it retains the authority to use GPA funds to cover a contract with the university to monitor and update the essential programs and services school funding model.

LD 1221: An Act To Remove the Local Requirement for Education Funding, Senator Courtney

...provides that if a school administrative unit adopts a credible budget that is below the maximum state and local spending target under the Essential Programs and Services Funding Act the school administrative unit's required contribution must be reduced by the amount of the savings.

LD 1225: An Act To Amend the School Funding Formula Regarding School Administrative Units That Are Eligible for the Minimum State Share of Their Total Allocation, Rep. Johnson; Co-sponsors: Reps. Crockett, Davis, Eaton, MacDonald, McFadden, Schatz

...provides that a school administrative unit that is eligible for the minimum state share of its total allocation under the Essential Programs and Services Funding Act may also be eligible for an additional adjustment when the school administrative unit meets certain eligibility criteria for an economically disadvantaged school administrative unit:

     1. The local median household income of each municipality in the school administrative unit is less than the statewide median household income; and.

     2. At least 30% of the students in the school administrative unit are economically disadvantaged students as calculated pursuant to the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 20-A, section 15675, subsection 2.

     A school administrative unit that meets these eligibility criteria must receive an additional adjustment to the state share of its total allocation.

LD 1227: An Act To Equalize the Regional Salary Cost Index under the School Funding Formula, Rep Johnson; Co-sponsors: Clark, Crockett, Eaton, Knight, MacDonald, McFadden, Schatz, Thomas

...requires that, beginning in fiscal year 2010-11, the regional adjustment to the salary and benefits costs of teachers and other school personnel that is based on labor market areas in the State must be 1.0 for all labor market areas in the State.

LD 1298: An Act To Adjust the Special Education Funding for Minimum Subsidy Receivers, Rep. Dostie; Co-sponsors: Reps. Clarke: Finch, Fitts, Fletcher, Gilbert, McFadden; Senator Nutting

...adjusts the subsidy for special education for those school administrative units that are minimum receivers of state subsidy by reducing the transition percentage for special education costs to 25%.

LD 1414: An Act To Amend the Laws Governing Spending by School Administrative Units, Rep. Pingree

...allows a school administrative unit to exceed its maximum state and local spending target under the Essential Programs and Services Funding Act by the higher of 5% over the state and local spending target or an amount equal to the unit's previous year's budget multiplied by the rate of growth of the current year's maximum state and local spending target over the previous year's maximum state and local spending target without having to have the amount approved by referendum. This bill creates new referendum language for a school administrative unit that exceeds its maximum state and local spending target.

Wednesday:

Work Sessions

1:00 p.m. –

L.D. 853: An Act To Encourage Maine Residents To Attend Medical School and Practice in Maine

L.D. 963: Resolve, Directing the University of Maine System To Self-transition Its Educational Broadband Service from Analog to Digital

 

2:30 p.m. –

DOE “Part GGG” authorization to extend the Maine Learning Technology Initiative (laptop program)

 

4:30 p.m. –

LD 1049: An Act To Encourage Cooperation among School Administrative Units, Rep. Sutherland; Co-sponsors: Reps. Dill, Duchesne, Johnson, O'Brien, Percy, Pieh, Trinward; Senator Weston

... provides for the formation of 20 regional education cooperatives. School administrative units established as of July 1, 2009 may join a regional education cooperative of their choice, and each participating school administrative unit has a single representative to the cooperative board. Participation in regional education cooperatives is voluntary and the participation of participating school administrative units in any of the specified educational functions or support services carried out by the regional education cooperative is voluntary.

...Participating school administrative units voluntarily choose which educational functions or support services they purchase from the regional education cooperative and contribute only for the costs of those educational functions or support services that they use. Savings achieved through the regional education cooperative accrue to the participating school administrative units, with a portion reserved for administrative costs of the regional education cooperative.

Thursday, April 16:

 

Work Sessions

1:00 p.m. –

Attorney General Guidance on Potential Competing Measures

 

2:30 p.m. –

LD 677: An Act To Lower the Cost of State Government in the Departments under the Purview of the Joint Standing Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs, Senator Nutting; co-sponsors: Reps. McFadden, Sirois, Senators Trahan, Weston

...eliminates one Regional Education Representative position and one Public Service Executive II position within the Department of Education effective October 1, 2009.

 

L.D. 1036: An Act To Amend the Education Laws Regarding the State Board of Education's Degree-granting Authority, the Appeal of a School Board's Decision To Discharge a Superintendent, the Telecommunications Education Access Fund and Certain Definitions and Programs

L.D. 1027: Resolve, Directing the Department of Education To Include the Study of Family and Consumer Science in the System of Learning Results

L.D. 1068: An Act To Extend the Summer Tourism Season and Thereby Increase Sales Tax Revenues by Requiring that the School Year in Maine Begin After Labor Day

L.D. 1077: Resolve, To Establish the Commission To Establish The Maine Academy of Living Treasures

L.D. 352: An Act To Encourage Veterinary Practice in Maine

SBS Conference

Where is the money to pay for a 3-day conference coming from? $25 per attendee isn't covering the full cost, obviously. Add to this the price of lodging for three/four nights, plus meals and mileage for almost all participants and it's apparent that only those school systems with extra money to spend (one more lay-off won't make that much difference to the kids, will it?) will be able to be there.

With only one month's notice, it is both clear and ironic that the only people who will actually be able to attend are superintendents and other central-office administrators. Those are the same positions which are supposedly being eliminated through school reorganization. Teachers and other school-based "stakeholders" are in no position to give up three (or four, if one is interested in attending the pilot site workshop on Thursday) work/school days in the middle of the final quarter of a school year. Parents are even more unlikely to have this kind of time and resources in the middle of a recession.

Given that the bill to adopt the Stakeholders Report on a Standards-Based High School diploma (LD 1325*) has not even been scheduled for a hearing by the Education Committee, let alone the full Legislature, it appears that the DoE is - again - putting the cart miles before the horse.

Finally, it is astonishing that the DoE is touting the Alaska model for an entire state-wide shift for Maine. The Chugach school system (Anchorage) serves 214 students scattered throughout 22,000 square miles - not exactly comparable to Maine, except in some non-compliant systems, of course. The high school which the DoE staff used as an example for a standards-based diploma is a public charter school (Highland Tech High) also based in Anchorage. Parents, teachers and community members should be asking where else this model has been tried on a large-scale basis well before it is adopted in Maine. School reorganization should have taught us all something about being skeptical of the DoE's methods.

*http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/bills_124th/billtexts/HP092901.asp

SBS Conference

Along with NancyH's important comments the other issue that struck me about Commissioner Gendron's informational letter is that an important stakeholder that will make or break this change in assessement was left off the list of invited participants.
The Teachers.
How anyone including DoE can expect such a transformation to occur with out the advice and willing participation of the State's K-12 teachers is beyond me.
While there is something to be said for evolving to a standards based assessement system, the planning and development of this transition is starting to look a like like the debacle of the infamous local assessement system that was such a waste of time and resources.
The arrogance of this commissioner is getting a little old.

Teachers as Stakeholders

Mr. Gignoux is correct that teachers and other school-based personnel are not explicitly invited to the DoE SBS Conference. The Informational Letter is directed to superintendents alone.

However, near the end of the letter is a throw-away line, "The purpose of this letter is to invite school administrative unit personnel..." In the conference brochure, there is a reference to a "team" from each school system. How this team will be selected is open to question.

Furthermore, for other groups - school board members, students, and parents/community members (although why school board members aren't considered part of the school unit, I don't understand) - there is a further caveat: "For individuals not affiliated with any school district as staff, faculty, or representatives of the student body, and who are not DOE staff, the registration fee for the three-day conference is $100. These stakeholders are welcome to attend if space is available."

So much for being "stakeholders."