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Conference Scheduled on Federal Recovery Package

INFORMATIONAL LETTER: 71
POLICY CODE: DBE

TO: Superintendents of Schools
FROM: Susan A. Gendron
DATE: March 6, 2009
SUBJECT: Federal Recovery Package

I would like to invite you to a drive-in conference to share information with you regarding the anticipated recovery education funds in the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (H.R. 1). The conference is scheduled for Monday, March 16, from 9 a.m. to noon at Florian Hall in the Commerce Center in Augusta. (See directions below.) We will create a podcast and post it on our website for those who cannot attend. I will also schedule a conference call, probably for later that week, and will send details to you.

As of this writing, we have not received official guidance from the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) on the use of recovery funds and related requirements. We received word today that there would be a delay in the issuance of those guidelines which were expected this week. We do not know how long the delay will be.

I will be meeting this weekend and Monday with state education chiefs from around the country in Washington, D.C., on a variety of issues, prominently including education funding in the recovery package. I will be joined by Deputy Education Commissioner Angela Faherty and Jaci Holmes, our federal/state legislative liaison. I will participate in a meeting on Tuesday with U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and the three of us will meet with our congressional delegation on Tuesday afternoon.

Once we have received the official USDE guidance, we will work quickly to review it, ask USDE any unanswered questions and seek any specific clarifications if necessary, and prepare briefings for all of you, as well as for the Governor and the Legislature. We will also begin work immediately on the application that will be necessary for Maine to receive education funds under the recovery package. We have been given explicit orders by the Governor to move with all speed to submit that application so we can move the funds to school systems as quickly as possible.

I know that it is difficult for you, your school boards, parents and communities not knowing all of the details of how this money can be spent and how much will ultimately be distributed to SAUs and for what purposes. I am confident that we will have answers soon, and please know that we are doing everything we can to get you accurate information as quickly as we have it to share.

I continue to urge caution in making plans based on anticipated funds. While we are confident that SAUs will see restoration of the reductions made in their current fiscal year state subsidy, and additional federal funds in each of the next two fiscal years, there will be federal restrictions on the use of that money and federal reporting requirements, and we do not yet know the exact date the funds will flow. You can find information in the law on these requirements on our recovery website (http://www.maine.gov/education/recovery ) and we will post additional guidance there as it becomes available.

Directions to Florian Hall in the Commerce Center

FROM POINTS SOUTH: Take Interstate 95 North to Exit 112 B. Proceed North on Civic Center Drive (Routes 11, 27 and 8) for approximately 1 miles. Just after the DHHS building, turn left at Commerce Drive/Central Maine Commerce Center.

FROM POINTS NORTH: Take Interstate 95 South to Exit 112. Turn right off the ramp. Proceed North on Civic Center Drive (Routes 11, 27 and 8) for approximately 1 miles. Just after the DHHS building, turn left at Commerce Drive/Central Maine Commerce Center.

Park in front of the building and enter the door marked Public Safety. Florian Hall is ahead on your left.