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  • Quinn Malter

Funding Maine Schools In Uncertain Times

It’s been a tough few years for Maine students and educators. The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic created major disruptions in the routines of our youngest populations and the caring professionals who work with them.

For many schools and universities already facing difficulties, COVID-19 compounded those challenges and introduced a new hurdle: how to ensure a safe learning environment amid a pandemic.

Meanwhile, some parents were making the transition to home-schooling, dramatically shifting enrollment numbers in public schools across the state. Recorded data suggests that the number of children who were homeschooled in Maine grew by as much as 74 percent in 2021 as compared to the year before.

Recognizing the vital role of education funding in a time of uncertainty, Senator Joseph Rafferty of Kennebunk introduced LD 1207 - An Act To Maintain the Current Level of Education Funding.

The bill would require the Commissioner of Education to use student enrollment numbers from the pre-pandemic period to determine operating costs, even if a school’s enrollment declined after 2020. This would ensure that schools aren’t funded based on a fluctuating or likely inaccurate number of students as many continue to transition in and out of the school system.

The act was written as an emergency bill, which means LD 1207 would take effect immediately if it were to be passed by a two-thirds majority in both houses of the Maine Legislature.

After two years of managing the pandemic, it’s clear that there is still much more work to be done. We applaud Senator Rafferty for taking this step to ensure appropriate education funding goes to our public schools during Maine’s recovery.

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