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Executive Summary Challenges

The goal of this study was to

  1. Identify challenges faced by Maine school districts in providing high quality public education.
  2. Describe the magnitude of the challenges.
  3. Identify areas where school districts were experiencing some success in meeting these challenges.

The School Districts Challenge Survey was distributed online to all Maine’s public school district superintendents. Survey responses were collected from 68 superintendents representing leadership of both rural and non‐rural school districts and districts of varying size. The top three challenges identified by superintendents for both rural and non‐rural school districts were:

  1. The level of state funding of the local school district.
  2. The high level of poverty among the students in the local school district.
  3. The ability of the local school district to compete for external grants and funds.

Other high ranking challenges dealt with personnel topics such as the availability of special education personnel, being able to offer competitive salaries and benefits, and recruiting and retaining high quality building administrators.

When asked about progress superintendents were making in addressing challenges, many superintendents indicated they were in the process of developing plans to address selected challenges, but few reported they were making some, if any, progress in addressing the challenges they face. It was concluded that many of the challenges are related to fiscal issues and require state policy makers and local school districts to work together, both in addressing resource levels as well as using these resources in the most efficient and effective ways.