Maine is offering new grants to add more 'community schools' across the state – By Robbie Feinberg, Main Public

The Maine Department of Education is offering new funding to help expand the number of community schools, which are designed to bring in outside support services for families.

Ann Hanna, the community schools consultant for the Maine DOE, said that under the model, schools partner with local organizations to bring in services that could include child care, health care, and school-based food pantries.

"Kids come to school, with all kinds of needs that they may need to have addressed. And before they can really focus and be ready to learn, it's important to be able to find ways to address the whole child needs to set them up for success," Hanna said.

Hanna said that by assisting with students' and families' basic needs, schools can work together with families and address issues such as absenteeism.


A high cost of living and lack of a pension strain teachers in Alaska. Would bonuses help keep them? – By Becky Bohrer, AP News

Cory Hughes moved to a remote Alaska village to teach and would happily stay and retire there if he could afford to — despite the dark winters and the fact the bathroom for his housing unit in the school’s kindergarten building has a sink that comes to his knees.

But Alaska is the only U.S. state that does not offer teachers a pension, and researchers say teacher pay and benefits have not kept up with other states. Hughes has bought a house in Ohio and he’s wondering how long he can remain in Nunapitchuk, the southwest Alaska village with a population of 525 he has come to love.

“I’ve taught for seven years, and my retirement wouldn’t even last me, like, a few months,” said Hughes, 28. “So I know that my time here is going to have to come to an end at some point, probably sooner than later.”

School funding is dominating the Legislature as lawmakers meet nearly 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) away in Juneau. Districts are facing teacher shortages and, in some cases, multimillion-dollar deficits. They say unpredictable levels of state support tied in part to Alaska’s fluctuating oil wealth make long-term planning nearly impossible.


Child tax credit, funding for school meals: Five education bills to watch this legislative session – By Samantha Smylie, Chalkbeat

A child tax credit for Illinois families, funding for free school meals, and support for districts enrolling migrant students are some of the key issues to watch during this year’s spring legislative session.

State lawmakers headed back to Springfield for the start of the session on Jan. 16 to file hundreds of bills, start committee hearings, and negotiate over the state’s fiscal year 2025 budget. Legislators plan to wrap up the session at the end of May, with the new budget set to go into effect July 1, 2024.

Chalkbeat Chicago is keeping an eye on the debate over the Chicago elected school board maps, since the legislature has until April 1 to finalize the voting districts. November will be the first time that Chicago residents can vote for school board members, after years of the board under mayoral control.

In addition to the elected school board maps bill, here are five other education issues we will be watching:

Funding for migrant students, A child tax credit for Illinois families, State license pathway for Montessori teachers, New department for early childhood education, Funding for free school meals


Tribal schools to get 24/7 behavioral health and wellness support with crisis support line – By Shondiin Silversmith, AZ Mirror

To increase access to behavioral health and wellness support for students and staff at tribal schools nationwide, the Bureau of Indian Education launched a 24/7 support line for schools and programs funded by the bureau.

“BIE schools play a critical role in student’s lives that extends beyond the classroom and into their communities and the tribal nations that they are part of,” Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland said in a press release.

The call line offers crisis support and an option to schedule counseling sessions for students and staff to utilize at schools funded by the BIE. Students and staff call the support line at 1-844-ASK-BHWP (1-844-275-2497), where they are connected with trained professionals who can provide immediate individual attention.

“The mental health and wellness services provided through this program will also extend beyond the classroom, creating healthier and more resilient communities,” Newland said.

The support line is part of the BIE’s behavioral health and wellness program, which provides bureau-funded schools and programs with Indigenous-focused, evidence-based and trauma-informed behavioral health and wellness support.