FARMINGTON — University of Maine at Farmington could receive $1 million in funding from the federal Fiscal Year 2022 Appropriations bills, according to a statement from U.S. Sen. Susan Collins.

Collins, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee that drafted the bills, announced that $57.5 million in total would be allocated toward nine projects across the University of Maine system “to support research.” In total, Maine would receive $300 million for specific projects across the state.

At UMF, the money would go towards projects regarding early education.

UMF’s Early Education Degree Program Expansion would receive $400,000 to “help expand enrollment in the University of Maine-Farmington’s early childhood education degree programs to expand Maine’s early childhood educator workforce.”

Another $600,000 would be given to UMF’s Early Education Enrollment Expansion to “help expand enrollment for young children in the University of Maine Farmington’s nationally accredited early education and childcare programs.”

In response to the announcement on the funding, UMF President Edward Serna said the school is “so grateful to Senator Susan Collins for her support in this upcoming Appropriation bill.”

“Early childhood education provides a critical foundation for early learning, continuing educational achievement and ultimately, economic productivity,” Serna said. “Expanding enrollment to our nationally accredited early childhood education and childcare programs helps Maine families and Maine’s economy thrive.”

The funding comes at a time when Regional School Unit 9, based in Farmington and serving towns across Franklin County, is struggling to fill teaching and staff roles in the district. At this time, RSU 9 is looking to fill at least seven early education teaching positions across the district, according to its website. The district’s staffing shortage also reflects a similar problem state and nation wide.

While the funding is secured in the current drafts for the federal Fiscal Year 2022 Appropriations bills, the bills still need to be passed by the full U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

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