Legislature’s Education & Cultural Affairs Committee Will Hold Public Forum Tomorrow to Review Essential Programs & Services School Funding Laws

Legislature’s Education & Cultural Affairs Committee Will Hold Public Forum Tomorrow to Review Essential Programs & Services School Funding Laws

When and Where?

Thursday, February 7, 2013 at 1:00pm

Room 202, Cross State Office Building

What is the Essential Programs and Services School Funding Law and why is it important?

The Essential Programs and Services (EPS) model for education funding works to ensure that all Maine students receive the resources and funding necessary to receive a quality education. For many years, per pupil spending in Maine varied wildly among school districts, leaving some students at a major disadvantage. Rather than basing education spending on what was spent the year before or on how much a district can afford to spend, EPS bases the cost of education on how much it costs to provide a student with an “adequate” education. Here, “adequate” does not mean just passable, it represents an education that enables a student to accomplish the education goals set out by the Maine Department of Education.

The EPS model determines how much it costs to provide this quality of education to a typical student. However, some students have special needs which require more resources to educate (e.g. special needs students, English Language Learners, economically disadvantaged students, gifted and talented, etc.). A different cost per pupil is calculated for these students. For example, for every dollar it takes to educate a  student, it takes $2.10 to achieve the same quality of education for a special needs student. Then the cost per student is multiplied by the number of students (including students requiring more resources) to get the total cost of operating the school. However, some overall factors affecting the school can make it more difficult to provide a quality education. Therefore, the total cost of operating the school is then adjusted for factors like an isolated geographic location, declining enrollment or adult education, which require more resources. Once this number is known, another formula is used to determine how this cost will be divided between state and local funds.

Why are we reviewing the EPS funding law?

During the 125th Maine Legislature it was determined that we needed to examine the EPS laws to make sure that we were properly and fairly funding our public schools. The Joint Standing Committee of Education and Cultural Affairs worked on creating, and passing, Resolve 2011, chapter 166 (LD), “Resolve, To Authorize the Legislature to Contract for an Independent Review to Evaluate the Essential Programs and Services Funding Act.”  There was a request for proposal (RFP) put out in 2012 to find an independent group to examine EPS. In September 2012 Lawrence O. Picus and Associates were awarded the contract to do the review. For more information about both the resolve and the RFP please see the following site: http://www.maine.gov/legis/opla/EDUrevEPScontract.htm

What is happening at this hearing?

The independent consultants, Lawrence O. Picus & Associates, wish to hear from impacted stakeholders about their experience with EPS in order to help inform their report. Picus & Associates have posed the following questions to begin the discussion but do not wish to limit the conversation to these questions alone.

  • Is there something unique about Maine’s education system (or the state of Maine in general) that should be taken into account while reviewing the state’s education funding system?
  • Do you think Maine’s funding system appropriately addresses the needs of all students, including special student populations (at-risk students, English language learners, special education students)?
  • How could the system be structured to help students best achieve their educational goals?
  • Do you feel Maine’s education funding system addresses the unique needs of all schools and school districts in the state?

Can’t make it to the hearing?

You can also listen to hearing online at the Education Committee website: http://www.maine.gov/legis/audio/education_cmte.html

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This post was written by
Matthea “Mattie” Daughtry, a Brunswick native, is the State Representative for the Maine House District 66

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