The State of Maine uses the student's Free/Reduced lunch status to determine if a student is "economically disadvantaged". A student can be deemed economically disadvantaged using the following methodologies:
- student is listed on the Direct Certification list from the Maine Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHS), or
- student's parent or guardian has completed an Application for Free/Reduced Lunch Meals and the family income falls within the program guidelines, or
- student's parent or guardian has completed a Parent/Guardian Economic Status Form and the family income falls within the program guidelines.
School Administrative Units (SAUs) that do not collect school lunch information because they have chosen to implement the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) for the federal school nutrition funds purposes, or for some other reason; are still required to report individual student information for the purpose of State funding (for Economically Disadvantaged students*) through the Essential Programs & Services Funding Act (EPS) and other federal and State individual student information requirements.
In order to ensure that the SAUs still receive accurate State funds (Economically Disadvantaged funds) through the EPS formula, annual Free & Reduced status for eachindividual student for the October 1st count must still be submitted to the State student information system (Synergy) Economic Status area.
This reporting is not for nutrition purposes and should not be collected or entered by your nutrition staff. Rather, this information is required for other administrative and funding purposes and should be completed by either a school-level or district-level administrative staff member.
Options in determining whether or not a student has an Economically Disadvantaged Status for State funding for schools:
Option A: Request information from all the parents/guardians of students to determine the economic status (free and/or reduced lunch eligible) for all students.
Option B: Use the Department of Health & Human Services Direct Certification Eligibility to identify those students who are automatically given the economically disadvantaged status and then request information from the parents/guardians of the balance of the students to pick up those students that are not direct certification eligible but may still have an Economically Disadvantaged status (free and/or reduced lunch eligible).
The SAU must continue to report each student’s status annually to the Economic Status area in the State student information system (Synergy). The State Department of Education will utilize the Economic Status to determine the Economically Disadvantaged percentage for each school administrative unit’s subsidizable students. As long as the SAUs continue to report these individual students’ status to Synergy, they will continue to receive the State Economically Disadvantaged funding due to them under the Essential Programs & Services Funding Act (EPS).
In order for a student to have Economically Disadvantaged status, they must be eligible for Free Lunch or Free Milk or Reduced Lunch pursuant to State law 20-A MRSA �15672(3).
- Richard Bergeron - Richard.Bergeron@maine.gov - 207-624-6840