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updated 7/30/2013...pg

Approval for Receipt of Public Funds by Private Schools

(Not Special Purpose Private Schools*)

 

At this time, Maine does not have a voucher program, therefore, there is no direct payment from the State Department of Education for a student's tuition with the exception of special education students that are either State Wards or State Agency Clients.

In Maine, the municipality that you reside in is responsible for providing a "free public education" for your children, from age 5 (by October 15) to age 20, per Title 20-A §2, in accordance with the Constitution of Maine, Article VIII.

The municipality can provide this education either by operating their own schools, or if they do not operate their own schools, they can pay tuition to another public school, or a private school approved for tuition purposes. The State sets the maximum tuition rates the receiving units may charge, though there are allowances in the statutes for the sending and receiving units to negotiate a different rate.

Should you reside in a unit that has its own schools or contracts with a specific school(s), and you choose to send your child to a private school, the school unit you reside in is not financially responsible because they already provide a "free public education" for Kindergarten through Grade 12. See Maine Statutes 20-A MRSA §5203 (1) and MRSA §5204 (1).

To determine whether a school administrative unit offers school choice, you will need to contact each school administrative unit's superintendent of schools and ask whether they contract with a specific school or offer a choice of schools that they will pay tuition for a student. Some municipalities within a Regional School Unit have school choice while others do not. It is very important to check with the superintendent of schools to determine whether or not your municipality has school choice. This information is not available at the Department of Education.

A directory of school administrative units is available on the Department of Education website at http://maine.gov/doe/schools/directories.html

If the child lives in an Unorganized Territory, please contact the Education in Unorganized Territory Department to determine the education options available.


Frequently Asked Questions:

How does a private school obtain approval to receive public funds?

In order to be approved for receipt of public funds by a private school, the school must meet specific criteria per statute 20-A MRSA §2951. And the school must complete the Year-End Report of Private Schools (EF-M-240) each year.

Before a Maine local school unit may pay tuition to a private school, that private school must be approved by the Maine Department of Education to receive public funds from Maine local school units.

 

How do I know if a private school is approved for public funds?

Once the information required for approval is received, the list of approved private schools can be viewed at the following site:

http://www.maine.gov/education/data/tuitionrates/tuitrate.htm

 

Who pays for the tuition to the private school?

Tuition is paid by the sending municipality or local school administrative unit; in other words, the local school unit where the child lives is responsible for paying the tuition if the school is approved for receipt of public tuition funds.

The local school unit may pay up to the statewide average public school tuition rate for that same year - the balance would be the parent's responsibility.

Before a Maine local school unit may pay tuition to a private school, that private school must be approved by the Maine Department of Education to receive public funds from Maine local school units.

 

When will the maximum tuition rate be available for the current school year?

The calculation cannot be completed until all the final audited financial data for the previous school year has been submitted to the State for every School Administrative Unit; once that data is received the tuition rates for the upcoming/current school year will be calculated and posted after December 1st.

 

What can I do about the tuition payment until the maximum tuition rate for the current school year is available?

The maximum tuition rate calculated for the previous year can be used as an estimate for the current year until the new calculation is available.


For additional questions or for more information, please contact Paula Gravelle either by email or at (207) 624-6792.

 

*Special Purpose Private Schools should complete the Year-End Report of Special Purpose Private Schools (CARES EF-S-10) available at the following website:  http://www.maine.gov/education/forms/specialservices/efs10/efs10menu.htm