As lawmakers, it’s one of our most significant responsibilities to address the needs of our local communities and ensure that Maine’s educational system remains strong and resilient. This year, we made great strides to support students and teachers, focusing on the heart of what makes our communities thrive: collaboration, care, and forward-thinking.
|State Sen. Tim Nangle|
One thing I’m particularly proud to see become law is LD 921, “An Act to Allow the Local Foods Fund for Public Schools to Be Used for Processed and Value-added Maine Food Products,” sponsored by my colleague Sen. Cameron Reny.
Thanks to this bill, Maine public schools can now serve our students an even broader range of locally produced food. Not only does this pave the way for healthier meal options for our kids, but it also bolsters our state’s local food economy, providing a vital boost for our dedicated farmers.
Essentially, we're nurturing our kids and supporting our farmers — a win-win for our communities.
Pensions and retirement benefits for our educators also received much-needed attention. The supplemental budget included a substantial investment into the Maine Public Employee Retirement System, aiming to enhance the living conditions for nearly 37,095 of our retired state employees and educators. They've devoted their lives to shaping the future of our students; it's only right we ensure they're cared for in return.
But our commitment to education isn't just in the present. We've set our sights on the future, making it easier for Mainers to get a quality education.
To start, we’ve invested nearly $8 million to prevent tuition hikes across the University of Maine System. We’ve also continued the promise of free community college education for an additional two years. These steps guarantee affordability without compromising the quality of education and make sure Maine continues to have a skilled workforce.
I am deeply impressed by the efforts of my colleague, Sen. Joe Rafferty, in championing the essential LD 1609, "An Act to Prevent Student Homelessness."
From my conversations with local educators, I've recognized the importance of ensuring all students have a stable environment to foster their learning. This new law established the Maine Student Homelessness Prevention Fund.
With this new support system, we're not just addressing immediate financial challenges but laying the foundation for a more secure, education-focused future for our young Mainers.
Additionally, LD 753, also sponsored by Sen. Joe Rafferty, will hopefully help with one immediate challenge: the educator workforce shortage. This act will allow retired teachers and educational technicians who dedicated a decade or more to teaching to re-enter the classroom. They have years of experience that can significantly benefit our students and provide immediate relief to our schools.
The feedback and concerns of our communities inform our actions. We aim to be responsive, flexible, and compassionate. By focusing on local communities, listening to the needs of our educators, and always keeping the best interests of our students at heart, we can ensure that Maine remains at the forefront of quality education.
To those teachers, students, and community members who’ve shared their insights, concerns, and hopes with me, I say thank you. Your voices matter. They guide each legislative decision, making sure that we're always moving in a direction that benefits our local communities.
One final thought: please be extra cautious when driving near school buses. Always be prepared to stop; remember that buses frequently halt to pick up and drop off students. It's crucial to come to a complete stop when a school bus has its red lights flashing and stop arm extended — passing a stopped bus is illegal and dangerous.
Additionally, be watchful for kids who might be crossing the street when the bus stops. Remember, state law requires school buses to stop at all railroad crossings. Every driver's attention and patience are essential in keeping our young Mainers safe.
If you wish to discuss any legislative matter or need assistance, I'm here to help. Reach out at Timothy.Nangle@legislature.maine.gov or call 207-287-1515. You can also follow updates on Facebook at facebook.com/SenatorTimNangle and sign up for my e-newsletter at mainesenate.org. <