Maine education committee hopes to introduce school funding reform bill

Lauren Williams's picture
Thursday, December 12, 2013

Despite a short time line and a potentially big price tag, several lawmakers on the Legislature’s Education and Cultural Affairs Committee said they plan to introduce an education reform measure in the upcoming session that will incorporate recommendations from a $450,000 outside analysis of how the state funds local schools.

“We have before us this report that is research-based and evidence-based on a national scale and offers us some ways of improving where we’re at in education,” said Rep. Bruce MacDonald, D-Boothbay, House chairman of the committee. “I realize the price tag is pretty rich, ... but I’d like to see us take a big swipe at some of the recommendations.”

The report from California-based Picus & Associates, 18 months in the making, offers a range of proposals, including reducing class size, expanding early education and increasing staff development days. Altogether the changes could increase annual state education spending by as much as $230 million a year.

Various lawmakers indicated support for several of the suggestions in the report, but did not expressly endorse any in particular on Tuesday, when the authors presented their final report to the committee. The committee meets again in January, and all members were asked to itemize their priorities at that time.

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