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Abstract/ Summary

In 2015, the Maine State Legislature's Joint Standing Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs commissioned the Maine Education Policy Research Institute (MEPRI) to study the state's Essential Program and Services (EPS) K-12 education funding model in relationship to the funding for Maine's two virtual charter schools. The study was initiated with a review of available literature and reports on virtual school funding in other states. Because the structure of Maine's virtual schools differs from typical models in other states, most notably because core academic subject teachers are required to teach from one central physical location, further cost analysis was conducted using only Maine-­based data. The expenditure data available was from one school (Maine Connections Academy) in its first year of operation in 2014-­15. This limits the generalizability of the findings. Data were analyzed by categorizing the virtual school expenditures as much as was possible into nineteen separate components of Maine's Essential Programs and Services funding model. In each category, the report first provides a qualitative description of how the virtual school carries out that type of work. This provides background to aid the reader in understanding how virtual schools operate, and in interpreting any differences in expenditures. Next the quantitative analysis for that cost category is detailed, followed by a concise summary of whether the expenditures for that category were higher, lower, or similar to the EPS cost model, unless inadequate data were available to make a determination. An appendix provides a summary of virtual school policies in other states.


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