It is that time of year again, when slow summer months fade into shorter autumn days and our schools reopen their doors to another year of learning for children in Maine.
Good morning, I am Janet Mills, Governor of the State of Maine, and thank you for listening.
As over 180,000 students enter pre-kindergarten through grade 12 classrooms this year, I would like to take a moment to thank the 40,000 dedicated professionals who help our schools run so efficiently and successfully every year.
As the daughter of a long-time high school English teacher, I know firsthand how much all of you do for our state’s children.
Whether you are a superintendent or a member of the faculty, a cafeteria worker, a janitor, a bus driver, or another member of the staff, your commitment to quality education ensures that school is a place where every Maine student can reach his or her full potential.
From career and technical education classrooms with calculators, laptops, spreadsheets, chalk boards and white boards, to innovative robotics labs, to experiential learning in organic farms and gardens and ocean waterfronts in communities from Freeport to Fort Fairfield, education professionals are sparking our students’ curiosity to create one-of-a-kind learning opportunities and to inspire the workforce of tomorrow.
Our students are our future leaders, our entrepreneurs, our innovators, and our public servants. Teaching them the importance of hard work, of creative thinking and critical actions and building common ground to achieve progress is at the foundation of our strength as a state.
The growth of our economy depends on a skilled and diverse workforce, and that workforce is built every day by our schools’ unsung heroes – those teachers and staff who work every day to help our kids learn.
As Governor, please know that this Administration fully supports our schools, students, staff and teachers.
The biennial budget invests more than $120m additional funds in general purpose aid to education. It paves the way for a $40,000 minimum teacher salary and it allocates $18 million to the School Revolving Loan Fund to help our schools.
The budget also funds initiatives to feed more hungry school children, so they can focus on learning, expanding school lunch programs, so our kids will learn on full stomachs.
Maine is confronting a workforce shortage that will be solved, in part, by making sure that every able adult is working, and every child is getting a good education to allow them to flourish.
While schools across Maine play a pivotal role in that effort, we also have a responsibility…the rest of us, to support students.
Parents can help children succeed by reading to them and ensuring that the kids attend school all rested and ready to learn and helping them with their homework and getting a good night’s sleep.
Individuals and businesses can mentor students and provide internships, they can sponsor academic learning opportunities or volunteer in classrooms, so kids know the opportunities that are available to them across our state.
And, especially in the coming months, all of us can slow down on the roads and stop fully for school buses to protect the safety of students all across our state.
To our students and their families, faculty, staff and superintendents, I hope you have a great school year! On behalf of all Maine people, thank you and good luck!
I am Governor Janet Mills. Thank you for listening.