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Legislature returning to take up school funding and other bills – June 14, 2018

The Legislature is making plans to return to Augusta next week to take up key bills, including approval of $1 billion in state General Purpose Aid that will go out to districts after the start of the new fiscal year on July 1.

Polling of legislative members is currently being done to look at best dates, but it appears likely the session will begin on Tuesday, June 19, and run through the 21st.

The Appropriations Committee, in anticipation of a special session after the Primary Election, met earlier this week and started moving bills that had been tabled pending funding approval.

In that mix were two priority bills for school boards and superintendents. They are:

L.D. 1710, An Act To Restore Maine’s School-based Health Centers. It would use $600,000 in available funds from the Fund for Healthy Maine to help pay for the restoration of funding cut during negotiations on the biennial budget. That funding cut came after contracts for continuation of services already had been sent to participating districts.

L.D. 1870, An Act To Reorganize the Provision of Services for Children with Disabilities from Birth to 5 Years of Age. The bill itself was completely rewritten to call for creation of a task force to design a plan to transfer CDS services to schools and to appropriate $3.7 million to make up for a current shortfall in CDS.

The Legislature also will act on a bill that will release GPA to schools. While an administrative work-around was proposed by the Department of Education, it has been the position of MSBA and MSSA that funding public education is appropriately a legislative responsibility and should not be an executive branch decision.

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