An Act To Establish a Process for the Implementation of Universal Voluntary Prekindergarten Education
Sec. 1. 20-A MRSA §405, sub-§3, ¶T, as enacted by PL 1995, c. 395, Pt. J, §4, is amended to read:
Sec. 2. 20-A MRSA §3271, sub-§1, as enacted by PL 1985, c. 490, §8, is amended to read:
Sec. 3. 20-A MRSA §3272, sub-§2, ¶B, as corrected by RR 2011, c. 2, §17, is amended to read:
Sec. 4. 20-A MRSA §4501, as amended by PL 2007, c. 141, §6, is further amended to read:
§ 4501. Duty of school units
In accordance with the policy expressed in section 2, every school administrative unit shall raise annually sufficient funds to maintain or support elementary and secondary schools to provide free education for its resident students at all grade levels. These schools shall meet the requirements of basic school approval. School units that choose to offer a shall offer by the 2017-2018 school year an opportunity for every child 4 years of age residing in their districts to attend public preschool program must meet programs, or programs affiliated with the school units, meeting the requirements of basic school approval.
The commissioner shall by rule establish a uniform common statewide screening and assessment for kindergarten, which must be used by all school administrative units beginning with the 2015-2016 school year. The assessment must be designed to measure student comprehension of academic content and mastery of related skills and cover such areas as physical health and motor development; social and emotional development; learning styles; language and literacy; and general cognition. Rules adopted pursuant to this section are routine technical rules as defined in Title 5, chapter 375, subchapter 2-A.
Sec. 5. 20-A MRSA §4502, sub-§9, as enacted by PL 2007, c. 141, §11, is amended to read:
Beginning in the 2014-2015 school year, the commissioner shall provide grants to school administrative units to implement or expand prekindergarten programs required under this subsection. To qualify for a grant, a school administrative unit must submit a prekindergarten implementation plan to the department by January 1, 2015. The commissioner shall adopt rules establishing criteria for the award of grants. Rules adopted pursuant to this subsection are routine technical rules as defined in Title 5, chapter 375, subchapter 2-A. Grants under this subsection may be funded from public or private funds made available for that purpose.
Sec. 6. 20-A MRSA §5001-A, sub-§1, as enacted by PL 1983, c. 806, §49, is amended to read:
Sec. 7. 20-A MRSA §5051-A, sub-§1, ¶C, as enacted by PL 2007, c. 304, §5, is amended to read:
Sec. 8. 20-A MRSA §15697 is enacted to read:
§ 15697. Funding for prekindergarten
A school administrative unit that receives funding under this chapter for prekindergarten purposes may not use those funds for purposes other than prekindergarten or early childhood education.
Sec. 9. Implementation of universal availability of prekindergarten education. The Commissioner of Education, referred to in this section as "the commissioner," shall establish the Prekindergarten Stakeholder Group, referred to in this section as "the stakeholder group," to develop a plan for the phase-in of the universal availability of prekindergarten education beginning with the 2017-2018 school year.
1. Membership of stakeholder group. The commissioner shall invite the participation of at least the following persons as members of the stakeholder group:
2. Duties of stakeholder group. The stakeholder group shall work with the commissioner and other interested persons to:
3. Report; legislation. The Commissioner of Education shall submit a report to the Joint Standing Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs by January 15, 2014 summarizing the work and recommendations of the stakeholder group and containing legislation to implement the recommendations of the stakeholder group. The committee may submit a bill to the Second Regular Session of the 126th Legislature regarding the report.
Sec. 10. Appropriations and allocations. The following appropriations and allocations are made.
EDUCATION, DEPARTMENT OF
PK-20, Adult Education and Federal Programs Team Z081
Initiative: Provides funds for one Early Childhood Coordinator position and related all other costs beginning in fiscal year 2014-15.
POSITIONS - LEGISLATIVE COUNT
|GENERAL FUND TOTAL||$0||$76,619|
Prekindergarten Implementation Program N156
Initiative: Provides funds for grants to local school administrative units to implement and expand prekindergarten programs.
|GENERAL FUND TOTAL||$0||$1,000,000|
|EDUCATION, DEPARTMENT OF|
|DEPARTMENT TOTAL - ALL FUNDS||$0||$1,076,619|
This bill requires implementation of universal voluntary prekindergarten education by the 2017-2018 school year. The Commissioner of Education is required to establish a stakeholder group to work with the commissioner and interested parties to establish a plan to implement the requirement. The stakeholder group is required to develop standards for prekindergarten education programs, recommend uniform statewide procedures for screening children and assessing program performance and recommend best practices to coordinate early childhood education programs with child care providers. The commissioner is required to submit a report of the work of the stakeholder group to the Joint Standing Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs by January 15, 2014, and the committee is authorized to submit a bill to the Second Regular Session of the 126th Legislature regarding the report. The bill also clarifies the role of the State Board of Education with regard to prekindergarten education, changes the compulsory age for school attendance from 7 years of age to 5 years of age beginning July 1, 2016 and provides that funding provided to a school administrative unit for prekindergarten purposes may not be used for other purposes. The bill provides that the Commissioner of Education must provide implementation grants and provides funds for those grants and for a position in the Department of Education to oversee early childhood education programs.