U.S. Department of Education Approves Maine’s Plan for Use of American Rescue Plan Funds to Support K-12 Schools and Students

Maine to receive more than $137 million in American Rescue Plan funds to support Maine students and schools

Governor Janet Mills announced today that the U.S. Department of Education has approved Maine’s proposal to use American Rescue Plan funding to support in-classroom instruction for Maine children, sustain the safe operation of schools, and equitably expand opportunity for students impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As part of the approval of Maine’s American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) Plan, the U.S. Department of Education is awarding more than $137 million in funding through the American Rescue Plan. In March 2021, the U.S. Department of Education also awarded the Maine Department of Education more than $274 million in funding.

“This pandemic has been hard on kids, parents, and school staff, but the Federal government’s approval of Maine’s plan is a welcome step forward as we return to classroom instruction and provide local school districts the resources necessary to address the needs of Maine students,” said Governor Janet Mills. “I thank the U.S. Department of Education for its approval of our plan and am grateful that because of the American Rescue Plan we will have these significant resources to provide a quality education for Maine children as we continue our fight against this deadly pandemic.”

“I am excited to announce approval of Maine’s plan,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “It is heartening to see, reflected in these state plans, the ways in which states are thinking deeply about how to use American Rescue Plan funds to continue to provide critical support to schools and communities, particularly as we look ahead to the upcoming academic year. The approval of these plans enables states to receive vital, additional American Rescue Plan funds to quickly and safely reopen schools for full-time, in-person learning; meet students’ academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs; and address disparities in access to educational opportunity that were exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. The state plans that have been submitted to the Department lay the groundwork for the ways in which an unprecedented infusion of federal resources will be used to address the urgent needs of America’s children and build back better.”

“As Maine students return to the classrooms, we must do everything we can to protect their health and create a safe learning environment,” said Senator Angus King. “I was proud to vote for the American Rescue Plan in March, which made needed investments to support in-person learning during this unprecedented public health threat. Governor Mills and her team at the Maine Department of Education have put together a thoughtful, well-considered plan that will both ensure that students receive a high-quality education and nurture our young people’s emotional and social health. Today’s approval of this approach is an important step to putting the American Rescue Plan’s funding to work for Maine students – and I will keep working in Washington to ensure that our students, teachers, parents, support staff, and administrators have every tool they need for a successful school year.”

“As Maine schools continue to face unprecedented obstacles amid the pandemic, I’m thankful the historic American Rescue Plan is already being put into action to support Maine students, educators, and families. These funds will go a long way toward keeping students and staff safe and will set Maine on a path to build back better,” said Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. “The American Rescue Plan is one of the most important pieces of legislation I’ve ever voted for, and this is exactly why.”

“The team at Maine Department of Education is thrilled that our plan has received approval from the U.S. Department of Education and that we can now begin approving school administrative unit plans for use of the ARP funds,” said Pender Makin, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Education. “These funds will support state-level efforts to propel our education system forward with a whole child focus, and will assist schools with innovative programming to address the academic and social-emotional needs of students while ensuring that they are learning in an environment that is safe and healthy.”

The highlights of Maine’s plan, as approved by the Federal government, are as follows:

  • Returning to In Person Learning in 2021: In Maine, nearly every school has been open for some in-person instruction since fall 2020. The 2021-2022 school year has begun in Maine with all schools open fulltime, in-person, 5 days per week.
  • Safely Reopening Schools and Sustaining Safe Operations: Maine’s COVID-19 Response vaccination website provides hundreds of vaccination sites through health care centers, pharmacies, and mobile vaccination units. Several Maine School Administrative Units (SAUs) also served as vaccination sites in the spring of 2021, and this fall many are working with local providers to host COVID-19 vaccine clinics for age eligible students and staff. Maine Department of Education (MDOE) is providing additional support for clinics to 12 SAUs. For no cost to them, each SAU or school can opt into the voluntary Pooled PCR Testing Program.
  • Addressing the Academic Impact of Lost Instructional Time: Maine Department of Education’s (MDOE) Extended Learning Program will develop opportunities for students across the state to engage with local industry employers. The program will allow students to gain knowledge and skills through learning and credit recovery in community-based and work-based organizations through the academic year. The Maine Online Opportunities for Sustained Education (MOOSE) Learning Module Library provides free access to asynchronous, interdisciplinary, project-based learning modules aligned to the Maine Learning Results for PreK12. Additionally, Learning Management System (LMS) subgrants are available to SAUs to plan, execute, and assess specific learning processes and provide personalized approaches to education.
  • Investing in Expanded Afterschool Programs: Beginning in the Fall of 2021, MDOE is encouraging local school districts to form partnerships with community-based organizations to support afterschool programming. MDOE will coordinate these efforts with the state’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers program.
  • Staffing to Support Students’ Needs: MDOE partnered with the Maine Community College System to launch the Learning Facilitators Program, a fast-track training program for paraprofessional level educators to expand, strengthen and support the educator workforce and enable program participants to earn educational certifications at no cost. Over 100 educators completed coursework and secured placements. MDOE will continue this program in the 2021-22 school year and is exploring an expansion of this program with ARP funds.
  • Addressing the “Whole Student”: In the distribution of ARP ESSER funds, MDOE will encourage districts to focus on social-emotional learning, mental and behavioral health programs, restorative alternatives to exclusionary discipline, trauma-informed practices, student-centered learning through interdisciplinary, project-based instruction, and related professional development for educators and school leaders.
  • Meeting Emergency Needs: MDOE will use ARP emergency needs funds for mental health support for students, educators, and families; professional learning in trauma-informed practices; statewide diversity, and equity and inclusion support. This reflects input during MDOE’s community engagement to prioritize ensuring that students are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and prepared through investments in structures, human capital, systems, and practices.

In total, Maine is receiving more than $411 million in American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Plan funding. The full letter from the U.S. Department of Education can be read HERE (PDF). Maine’s approved plan can be read HERE (PDF).