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Home > MSMA News > Rep. Martin calls for statewide GPA comparisons – March 31, 2017

Rep. Martin calls for statewide GPA comparisons – March 31, 2017

Rep. John Martin, a longtime member of the Appropriations Committee, is calling on lawmakers to put pressure on the Department of Education to produce a statewide spreadsheet that shows winners and losers of state aid, cautioning some legislators will be “running for cover” when the numbers come out.

“Legislators will live or die by the spreadsheet,” Martin said. “What people care about is ‘what are we getting?’ Now we’re going to tell them ‘you’re getting less money than you’re now getting’. I’m not going home with that.”

Martin, D-Eagle Lake, was referring to the statewide spreadsheet that is typically put together by the DOE almost immediately after individual school districts are informed about how much state aid they will be getting. Individual numbers went out to districts in mid-February, but the department has said it has too much work right now to do the statewide sheet.

“Legislators will live or die by the spreadsheet,” Martin said. “So when the department chooses to do that sheet, you’ll be running for cover.”

More than half the districts in the state are losing money under the governor’s proposed budget. In Aroostook County where Martin lives there are considerable loses. Caribou (RSU 39) is losing just under $800,000; Fort Kent (MSAD 27) $585,000; and, Presque Isle (MSAD 1) $222,000.

The Maine School Superintendents Association (MSSA) and Maine School Boards Association (MSBA) have both called on the DOE to produce the spreadsheet, in written requests and in their budget testimony.

MSSA President Steven Bailey applauded Rep. Martin’s candor.

“The spreadsheets have always been critical in the legislative debate about the budget because they point out where there are winners and losers. That information prompts a discussion about whether there is sufficient funding going out to schools. In this year’s case, it also sheds light on how policy decisions proposed in the budget are hurting certain districts,” Bailey said.

MSBA President Becky Fles said it is the Department of Education’s responsibility to make sure everyone understands how the governor’s budget proposal affects schools across the state.

“This is state funding and how that money is dispersed should be made clear to everyone since this will be decided by the full Legislature. Some call this spreadsheet politics. We think of it as full disclosure,” Fles said.

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