School systems seeking State-subsidized construction projects periodically apply to the Department for a major capital school construction project. A team from the Maine DOE reviews the applications and conducts a site visit to each applicant’s school district.
Following the site visit, the team rates each potential project. The ratings are done from a matrix developed by rule and adopted by the State Board of Education. The Department then creates a list of projects in decreasing order from the project with the greatest need followed by projects with lesser needs in descending order. The Maine Education Commissioner presents the list to the State Board. The Board funds as many projects from the list as available debt limit funds allow.
The Maine DOE, working with the State Board, establishes both size and financial limits on projects. Local school units may exceed these limits at local expense. Under current State school subsidy formulas, the State bears the major financial burden of capital costs in most school units in Maine. In seeking solutions to educational facility issues, the Maine DOE first looks to the possibility of renovations or renovations with additions. New school construction projects are only considered in instances in which renovation projects are not economically or educationally feasible.
Some school units in Maine have opted to finance capital projects at the local level without the assistance of State subsidy. This option remains open to all school units in Maine.