Skip Maine state header navigation
Skip First Level Navigation | Skip All Navigation
|Home | Contact Us | Calendar | Archives ||
Home > Legislation Summary
Summary of the Reorganization Law
This summarizes the reorganization law in its entirety, including both Public Law 2007, Chapter 240, Part XXXX (enacted by passage of LD 499, the two-year budget, on June 11, 2007) and Public Law 2007, Chapter 668 (enacted by passage of LD 2323, An Act to Remove Barriers to the Reorganization of School Administrative Units, on April 18, 2008).
State Policy Objectives
The law sets forth state policy to ensure that schools be organized as units in order to provide equitable educational opportunities, rigorous academic programs, uniformity in delivering programs, a greater uniformity in tax rates, more efficient and effective use of limited resources, preservation of school choice and maximum opportunity to deliver services in an efficient manner.
All school units, of whatever form and whatever size - SADs, CSDs and municipal school units, small and large - must:
The Commissioner of Education or her designee will convene regional meetings to provide information, assistance and suggested alignments of school units. The Commissioner can suggest alignment of units, but local units aren't required to follow those suggestions and will ultimately pick their own partners.
SAUs will file a "Notice of Intent" with the Commissioner by August 31, 2007 and then work to develop a reorganization plan by December 1, 2007, or, if an SAU is exempted by the Commissioner, an "alternative plan."
Reorganization planning committees (RPCs) will be formed locally and will determine the structure of the proposed new Regional School Unit (RSU). Key decisions of governance, including the size and composition of the board, and the method of voting, will be made by the RPC and are part of the reorganization plan that will be submitted to the Department of Education.
The Commissioner must provide a written statement to the SAUs that submit plans that do not meet the statutory requirements with the reasons for the failure of these plans and suggestions for modifications of the plan.
All reorganization plans are subject to voter approval. If the reorganization plan is approved by the voters, elections will be held for seats on the RSU school board. Alternative plans approved by the Commissioner do not require a community vote.
The Department of Education will provide facilitators to SAUs that request them to provide technical assistance and guidance through the process.
SAUs that are members of a proposed regional school unit must hold a referendum on the plan on or before January 30, 2009. [Date amended by P.L. 2007, ch. 668] The referendum may be held on any date that otherwise meets election requirements of the state and the municipality. The Department will pay for the cost of one referendum anytime before Jan. 30, 2009, except on June 10, 2008, which is already a state primary election date, and Nov. 4, 2008, which is the date of the general election. (If a vote is held on either of those dates, there would be no significant added cost for simply adding this additional ballot item.)
Regional school units will be governed by a regional school unit board; representation on the Board is determined by the local communities as part of the reorganization planning process.
School Unit Size and Number
Existing school units should aim to form regional school units of at least 2,500 resident students, except where geography, demographics, population density, transportation challenges and other obstacles make 2,500 impractical. Where 2,500 is impractical, the units must create RSUs of at least 1,200 students.
Legislative intent of the law is to create a maximum of 80 school units or the number of units appropriate to achieve administrative efficiencies. The Commissioner may not refuse creation of a unit solely because it causes the number of units in the State to exceed 80.
All units, whether consolidated or exempted, including island and tribal schools, must submit a plan for reducing costs.
Exception to the Minimum Size Requirement
Exceptions from Consolidation
Efficient, High-performing Districts
Offshore islands and tribal schools
General Purpose Aid for Education (GPA) will be reduced in four areas beginning July 1, 2008. The per-pupil rate for system administration will be reduced to 50 percent of the 2005-06 rates, adjusted for inflation and the per-pupil rate for facilities and maintenance will be reduced by 5 percent. The Essential Programs and Services allocations for special education and transportation will each be reduced by 5 percent.
GPA will continue to grow even after the reductions in the four areas mentioned above.
Units where voters do not approve a reorganization plan at referendum will face financial penalties, starting on July 1, 2009. Penalties for units that don't form approved regional units by the beginning of FY 2010 include:
For regular subsidy receivers that vote against reorganization:
For minimum subsidy receivers that vote against reorganization:
All units that vote against reorganization (minimum and regular subsidy receivers):
A unit that votes against reorganization in one referendum can develop another reorganization plan and hold another referendum. The unit can avoid penalties if it approves reorganization by referendum no later than January 30, 2009 [Date amended by P.L. 2007, ch. 668] and is operational as a regional unit by July 1, 2009.
Schools and School Choice
Reorganization plans won't close schools or displace teachers and students. Local schools can't be closed unless the regional board votes by a two-thirds vote AND the municipality where the school is located votes to approve the closure. If the municipality votes not to close the school that the regional board votes to close, the municipality is responsible only for the added cost of keeping the school open, not the entire cost (same as current SAD law, except this provision now applies to high schools as well as elementary schools).
Each RSU must provide comprehensive programming for all K-12 students, and must include a public or publicly-supported private high school(s). There is not a requirement that the high school be physically located in the RSU or municipal school unit so long as there is a contractual relationship (or contractual relationships) ensuring that every student - including those in special education and alternative education - will be provided comprehensive programming.
Communities that have school choice now will, whether or not there is a contract to reflect that school choice, continue to have school choice after reorganization, even if they join a regional unit that has its own high school. An RSU may not by law take that choice away from any of its communities that currently have it. (However, communities that wish to voluntarily give up school choice before entering a new RSU may do so.)
Teachers and Other SAU Employees
Teachers and other school administrative unit employees will be transferred to the new unit, and will retain their rights under collective bargaining contracts. Contracts will continue until their planned expiration dates and there will be an orderly process for continuing collective bargaining.
Budget Process and Transparency
Beginning with the 2008-09 school budget, all school units will provide budget transparency by using a uniform budget format that clearly shows the budget and how it compares to Essential Programs and Services allocations for the RSU. The budget must show 11 cost centers, defined in law.
A budget first goes to the legislative body of the school unit - an RSU budget meeting at which any voter may attend and propose changes to the budget or, in the case of a municipal school system, the city council or other governing body.
After consideration and approval, the budget then goes to a budget validation referendum - that is, an up-or-down ballot before all voters in the municipalities making up the regional school unit or municipal school system. The ballot must be accompanied by a budget explanation document showing all 11 cost centers in the budget and, if applicable, the amount the budget exceeds the Essential Programs and Service allocation.
If the budget fails at referendum, the school board takes it up again and the same process is repeated.
[Budget process clarified throughout by P.L. 2007, ch. 668]
Regional collaborative agreements are encouraged under this law.
The Department of Education is required to review and critique all unfunded state mandates pertaining to school systems and report to the Legislature's Education Committee by December 15, 2008.
The Department of Education is required to report to the Legislature's Education Committee on implementation of this law and make recommendations on any proposed legislation needed, by January 31, 2008 (initial report) and December 15, 2008 (final report). At the request of legislators, the Commissioner has agreed to provide a report to the Committee in November 2008. [The December 15 date is amended per P.L. 2007, ch. 668]
|Copyright © 2007 All rights reserved.|