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Public education in Maine

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K-12 Education in Maine
State Superintendent: Stephen Bowen
Number of students: 188,969[1]
Number of teachers: 14,888
Teacher/pupil ratio: 1:12.7
Number of school districts: 260
Number of schools: 621
Graduation rate: 85%[2]
Per-pupil spending: $11,438[3]
See also
Public education in Maine
Maine Department of Education
Maine school districts
List of school districts in Maine
The Maine public school system (prekindergarten-grade 12) operates within districts governed by locally elected school boards members and superintendents. Maine has approximately 201 public school districts.

The Maine state constitution requires that the legislature has the duty to require "the several towns to make suitable provision, at their own expense, for the support and maintenance of public schools; and it shall further be their duty to encourage and suitably endow, from time to time, as the circumstances of the people may authorize, all academies, colleges and seminaries of learning within the State."[4]

The cost per student in Maine is $13,454, it is the 15 highest cost in the nation.[5] Maine's school system is currently $788 million in debt.[5]

School revenues, expenditures and budget

See also: Maine state budget
Maine's education costs are 43% of the state budget

Of the total Maine $5.7 billion statewide budget for the 2010-11 Biennial General Fund Budget, K-12 education accounted for an estimated $2.43 billion.[6] On March 30, 2010, the Maine State Legislature approved the state's $5.7 billion two-year budget, which closed a $310 million gap between revenues and expenses. The Senate voted to approve it by 110-35, and the Senate tally was 31-2. The budget includes cuts to social programs such as MaineCare, revenue sharing and school subsidies that legislative leaders called "painful," but the budget also includes no general tax or fee increases.[7][8]

For FY 2011, Maine faced an expected $438 million budget gap. At the time the state's budget was passed, the gap was $310 million, less than originally predicted due to increased federal funding and optimistic economic predictions.[9][10] Still it is looking like the DOE is going to have make up for the $100 million of derailed funding by making cuts in the education department.Patricia Hopkins, who oversees two districts in the Camden area, said that her initial reaction to the news was dismay. “To be honest,” she said, “we were feeling pretty optimistic that we were not going to experience another cut this year. We were seeing state revenues turning around, so we were going into this year feeling better.”[11]

Maine's top 2 sources of revenue are Individual Income Taxes (43.4% for the 2010-2011 biennium) and Sales & Use Taxes (32.3% for the 2010-2011 biennium).[12]

Personnel salaries

In the 2003-2004 school year the average teacher yearly salary in the state of Maine was $39,86. However, the average elementary school teacher salary was $39,784, compared to $40,038 average salary of a secondary school teacher. The chart below highlights average teacher salaries for the state as a whole and broken down into elementary and secondary schools salary averages.[13]

School year Elementary Class Teachers Avg. Salary Secondary Class Teachers Avg. Salary Total Class Teacher Avg. Salary
2000-2001[14] $36,158 $36,853 $36,373
2001-2002[15] $37,110 $37,721 $37,300
2002-2003[16] $38,237 $38,825 $38,518
2003-2004[13] $39,784 $40,038 $39,864

Role of unions

The main union related to the Maine school system is the Maine Education Association (MEA), an affiliate of the National Education Association (NEA). For the 2003 tax period MEA had: $6.47 million in total revenue, $6.63 million in total expenses and $2.63 million in total assets.[17]

List of local Maine school unions:[18]

Role of school boards

The State Board of Education is responsible for making recommendations to the state legislature; grants permission to "administrative units" to enter into agreements for cooperative educational purposes; approved standards for school construction; approves the formation of community school districts; establishes the teacher certification program; and supports the recognition of exemplary teaching and learning opportunities through "Making the Grade Awards" and the Maine Teacher of the Year Program.[19]

Taxpayer-funded lobbying

See also: Maine government sector lobbying

The main education government sector lobbying organization is the Maine School Boards Association.


Maine’s audit reports are published online by the Department of Audit. The Maine Department of Audit's primary responsibility is to audit the financial statements of the State of Maine and expenditures of federal programs.[20]

The Maine Heritage Policy Center has created a website,, that provides transparency information for citizens. The website also provides state salary information. Users can search by first name, last name, agency, department, subdepartment, position, pay year, and wage range.[21]

Academic performance

The chart below details the percentage of students that scored either proficiently or failed to meet targets in reading and mathematics on the state assessment exam Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) exam. AYP is used by the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) program to determine the academic performance of schools. Maine education officials reported that approximately 64% of students met both reading and mathematic AYP targets for the 2008-2009 school year. A total of 18% of students failed to meet all targets.[22]

Year Reading AND Math Reading OR Math Did not meet targets Pending results Total schools
2008-2009 406 (64%) 106 (17%) 115 (18%) 8 (1%) 635

2009-2010 AYP Status by School are available here.

State Budget Solutions’ Education Study: “Throwing Money At Education Isn’t Working”

State Budget Solutions’ examined national trends in education from 2009-2011, including state-by-state analysis of education spending, graduation rates, and average ACT scores. The study shows that states that spend the most do not have the highest average ACT test scores, nor do they have the highest average graduation rates. A summary of the study is available here. Download the full report here: Throwing Money At Education Isn’t Working.

See National Chart to compare data from all 50 states.

State Spending on Education vs. Academic Performance 2012

State 2011 Total Spending[23] 2011 Education Spending[24] 2011 Percent Education Spending 2012 Total Spending[25] 2012 Education Spending[26] 2012 Percent Education Spending 2010 Avg. ACT score[27] 2011 Avg. ACT score[28] 2012 Avg. ACT score[29] 2010 Graduation Rate[30] 2011 Graduation Rate[31]
Maine $11.6 billion $3.0 billion 25.8% $12.1 billion $3.3 billion 27.2% 23.2 23.3 23.4 78.5% 79.1%

School choice

School choice options include:

  • Charter schools: As of 2010, Maine does not have a charter school law.[32][33]
  • Public school open enrollment: the state of Maine has one main open enrollment policy: inter-district. In other words, students are permitted to enroll in any school outside their neighborhood school district. However, the board of the receiving school's school board must first approve of the student's transfer.[34]
  • Online learning: Maine does not have a state-led or statewide online program. However, according to reports, Maine has approximately 20 high schools that participate in the Virtual High School Global Consortium.[33]

External links


  1. National Center for Education Statistics, "Table 2. Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011–12," accessed March 18, 2014
  2. ED Data Express, "State Tables Report," accessed March 17, 2014 The site includes this disclaimer: "States converted to an adjusted cohort graduation rate [starting in the 2010-2011 school year], which may or may not be the same as the calculation they used in prior years. Due to the potential differences, caution should be used when comparing graduation rates across states."
  3. United States Census Bureau, "Public Education Finances: 2011," accessed March 18, 2014
  4. Maine Constitution,"Article VIII, Section 1," accessed May 15, 2010
  5. 5.0 5.1 Maine Watchdog, Education Spending Per Child, July 6, 2010
  6. Maine Senate,"Maine's 2010-2011 Budget at a Glance," accessed May 15, 2010
  7. The Portland Press Herald "Budget to erase state shortfall wins approval" March 31, 2010
  8. Business Week "Maine lawmakers enact budget rewrite" March 31, 2010
  9. "Maine House, Senate Pass State Budget" April 1, 2010
  10. Bangor Daily News,"Gov. Baldacci defines goals for final year," January 2, 2010
  11. Maine Watchdog, Derailed FMAP May Trigger Education Cuts, July 1, 2010
  12. Maine Bureau of Budget, "Governor’s Recommended 2010-2011 Biennial Budget Overview," January 9, 2009
  13. 13.0 13.1 Maine Department of Education,"2003-2004 Public average salary of full-time professional staff for the school year," accessed May 15, 2010
  14. Maine Department of Education,"2000-2001 Public average salary of full-time professional staff for the school year," accessed May 15, 2010
  15. Maine Department of Education,"2001-2002 Public average salary of full-time professional staff for the school year," accessed May 15, 2010
  16. Maine Department of Education,"2002-2003 Public average salary of full-time professional staff for the school year," accessed May 15, 2010
  17. Center for Union Facts,"Maine Education Association," accessed May 12, 2010
  18. Center for Union Facts,"Maine teachers unions," accessed May 12, 2010
  19. Maine Department of Education,"Maine State Board of Education responsibilities," accessed May 15, 2010
  20. Department of Audit Web site, retrieved October 24, 2009
  21. MaineOpenGov,"Maine Payroll," accessed May 12, 2010
  22. Maine Department of Education,"DOE Releases Three Testing and Accountability Reports," October 21, 2009
  23. "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Total Spending" Aug. 4, 2012
  24. "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Education Spending"Aug. 4, 2012
  25. "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Total Spending" Aug. 4, 2012
  26. "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Education Spending"Aug. 4, 2012
  27. 2010 ACT National and State Scores "Average Scores by State"
  28. [ 2011 ACT National and State Scores " Average Scores by State"]
  29. [ 2011 ACT National and State Scores " Average Scores by State"]
  30. National Center for Education Statistics
  31. National Center for Education Statistics
  32. Maine Association for Charter Schools,"Maine page, MACS," accessed May 15, 2010
  33. 33.0 33.1 The Heritage Foundation,"Maine School Choice," accessed May 15, 2010
  34. Education Commission of the States,"Open Enrollment: 50-State Report," accessed April 21, 2010