Friday, August 5, 2022

Bill Diamond: Supporting teachers, setting up students for success

Senator Bill Diamond
By Senator Bill Diamond

As a former teacher, principal, and school superintendent, ensuring Maine students have access to quality education has been a priority for me for a long time. School prepares young people to meet the challenges of tomorrow and to become the leaders our state needs. Of course, none of that would be possible without the thousands of dedicated teachers across Maine. If we expect our students to receive a quality education, we need to make sure our teachers and schools have the tools and support they need to succeed. That’s why I’m proud that the Maine Education Association, a group that represents 24,000 Maine teachers, recently gave me a high score for my votes this year to support Maine schools, teachers and students.

Back in 2004, Maine voters approved a referendum to require that the state fund 55 percent of public education. Voters approved this important measure because increased state funding means that schools have the resources that they need to provide quality education to their students. It also lessens the burden on property taxpayers, whose dollars go toward funding local schools. However, it wasn’t until just last year that the Legislature was able to pass a budget to make this 55 percent state funding a reality. I’m proud to have voted in support of achieving this important milestone. And, to make sure the state will be able to meet this obligation in the years ahead, this year the Legislature created the Education Stabilization Fund. I’m incredibly proud and grateful to have been a part of this historic achievement in my final term as your senator. 

Another historic accomplishment I was proud to vote in favor of was bringing universal free school meals to Maine – meaning that no matter how much a student’s family makes, that student is able to get free breakfast and lunch at school. We’re one of the first states to pass this legislation, though during the pandemic the federal government allowed all states to provide universal free school meals, and with great success. Students need full bellies to learn, play and grow, and universal free meals are the best solution to making sure that no student falls through the cracks. The Legislature also passed measures in recent years to help put more nutritious, fresh, locally grown food on student lunch trays by creating and then expanding the Local Foods Fund. This not only helps children get the nutrition they need, it helps local farmers and food producers grow the market for their products. These free meals are also available to Maine kids throughout the summer; visit to find meal locations near you.

We also funded career and technical education and supported postsecondary education in Maine. For the first time, two years of community college tuition will be free for Mainers who graduate high school between 2020 and 2023. These students had their education the most directly impacted by the pandemic and giving them this opportunity to learn and prepare for some of the most in-demand jobs in our state not only benefits them, but all of us. We also froze in-state tuition at the University of Maine schools for students who are pursuing a four-year degree, and we expanded the Opportunity Maine Tax Credit to encourage graduates to stay in Maine and contribute to the future of our state.

On a separate note, I wanted to share that the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) has moved up the repaving of the Route 302 Rotary from 2023/2024 to this August. I contacted MDOT to share my concerns about the state of the rotary and ask that they come out and examine it. They agreed it was unlikely to stand up to another winter and so will instead begin work shortly. I’m grateful for Commissioner Van Note’s prompt attention to this matter, and to MDOT crews for the important work they do. Safe roadways are critical for all of us – whether you’re a patient headed to the doctor or a child on your way to school.

If you have questions about any of the work we did this session, or if I can help in any other way, please reach out to me any time. You can email me at or call my office at 207-287-1515, and you can also visit to sign up for my regular email updates. <

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