Wiscasset Superintendent of Schools Robert “Bob” England said the department needs students’ families to fill out meal applications even though school meals are free again in Maine this year. It is a need other school departments have, too, he noted in an email. He explained, the information from the completed forms factors into the state and federal funds departments get.
Responding to questions via email and phone Sept. 22, England said 42% of the forms have been completed, and the department is reaching out to families via email, take-home papers and at wiscassetschools.org to encourage them to fill out the forms. They provide “a snapshot of your community to see the social economic impact in regions,” to help determine funding, he said.
“If our sources of funds decrease overall ... then we either raise taxes or cut programs students currently have, etc.,” England explained.
Wiscasset Newspaper asked, “About how much funding does the department stand to lose in subsidies, or are there other factors the state and federal governments factor in that could still get Wiscasset those subsidies?”
England answered, “The exact impact (is) unknown until after the fact, basically, that's why we have to work to get these (forms) in.”
Maine Department of Education at Maine.gov reported there has been a “significant drop” in returned applications since school meals became free in the 2019-20 school year. “The family income data provided by the application informs key funding for school resources,” DOE stated. “This includes school meal reimbursements, funding for Title I programs, funding and resources for after school programs, funding provided to schools from the Maine State Legislature for essential programs and services at school, funding for special education, teacher loan forgiveness, and much, much more!”