President Jackson introduces legislation to increase funding for Maine School of Science and Mathematics

Pres. Jackson (front) with MSSM students, alumni, parents, board members, and staff.

AUGUSTA – Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, introduced legislation to increase funding for the Maine School of Science and Mathematics at public hearing before the Legislature’s Education and Cultural Affairs Committee on Tuesday.

“Maine School of Science and Mathematics is an asset to our state. It offers an affordable high-quality STEM education that benefits students and families today, and our workforce and economy tomorrow,” said President Jackson. “By providing a modest increase in ongoing funding to MSSM, we can ensure our state continues to benefit for years to come.”

LD 2118, “An Act to Provide Funding to the Maine School of Science and Mathematics” would provide $1 million in ongoing funding to the renowned public, residential high school located in rural Maine to meet operational expenses and provide financial support to in-state students who demonstrate the need for room and board assistance.

“It is however easy for me to say that I would not be where I am, in the career path I’ve chosen, without my time at the Maine School of Science and Mathematics. Without the infectious enthusiasm of those teachers, without the interpersonal tools fostered by such a close-knit community, and without the sense of independence perhaps inherent to that remote location, I would not be equipped to do the work I am currently engaged in,” said Sam Murray, an MSSM graduate originally from Freeport currently pursuing a doctorate in mathematics at McGill University. “For this reason, I think it is crucial that MSSM remains (or, maybe more accurately, becomes) well-funded, to continue to guarantee that same quality of education, and to ensure that younger generations of Mainers will have the same opportunity to benefit from this unique element of the Maine educational system.”

The proposed funding is in addition to the flat-funded amount the school receives annually in the state budget to cover tuition for in-state students. This stagnant funding has forced the school to make critical staffing cuts to remain operational and keep room and board affordable for families. 

“As the Executive Director of Educate Maine, I am also proud to support this bill on behalf of our board of directors,” said Jason Judd, Ed.D., Executive Director, Educate Maine and 2000 graduate of MSSM in written testimony. “The future of the Maine economy depends on the talent that we have in our state. We must prioritize developing young leaders who can join all parts of our economy especially in STEM occupations. We know that STEM jobs across the country are growing at a rate twice that of non-STEM jobs. Investing in MSSM needs to be a key strategy in supporting our future workforce in Maine. This bill makes that investment in MSSM.”

Founded in 1995 by the Maine Legislature, MSSM is a public, residential magnet school with a focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) that serves high school students from across the state. In 2019, U.S. News and World Report named MSSM the #1 High School in Maine, the #2 High School in the U.S., and the #2 Magnet School in the U.S. Later that year, Newsweek further recognized MSSM by placing it in the top ten STEM high schools in the country and Boston’s ABC affiliate released a video highlighting the schools’ excellence.

“Our support of MSSM is in alignment with our initiatives in K12 where we aim to support hundreds of Maine’s students increase their access and engagement in STEM fields and careers. To that end, we collaborate with many schools and K12 organizations to provide faculty, space, curriculum, and other resources to increase student awareness and engagement in STEM. MSSM serves students from across the state who want to pursue a rigorous STEM high school curriculum. Notably, MSSM provides powerful opportunities for Maine’s rural youth and graduates advanced students in STEM, which Maine’s economy needs to thrive,” said Margaret Angell, The Roux Institute in written testimony. “We are committed to supporting MSSM through our community partnerships. Supporting MSSM contributes to our state’s ambition to increase opportunities and prepare our young people to seize those opportunities. This is an essential mission for our community, and we hope you will support this unique and valued school.”

LD 2118 faces additional work in committee.

Pres. Jackson meets with current MSSM students before the public hearing.

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