The Maryland Association of Boards of Education recently released an analysis of Governor Hogan’s education budget revealing changes in direct aid to education from FY2015-FY2016 for Maryland’s local jurisdictions. While overall state funding for education has been described as “record levels,” the collective effect of the proposed cutbacks and funding delays in the proposed FY16 budget mean that 10 county school systems will receive lower direct funds than last year, totaling a roughly $52 million.
Counties are the principal unit of local government in Maryland, and, unlike in many states, counties in Maryland are responsible for funding public schools, libraries, and local community colleges. While local boards of education develop local school budgets and oversee education-related spending, they are dependent on almost half of their financing from county governments.
The other half of funding for K-12 education in Maryland typically comes from the State of Maryland and federal grants. The Maryland Association of Boards of Education analysis is based on the Governor’s education budget highlights and funding table, which includes a county-by-county breakdown of state aid to education, including individual categories such as compensatory education, special education, and student transportation.
The funding table also includes two summary columns for state aid to education — one is total aid ($6.1 B) and the other is total direct aid ($5.3 B). While “total aid” is state budget analysts’ most-quoted figure, the figure that matters in practice is “direct aid” – which excludes costs paid for teacher retirements. From the perspective of a school board, it’s this funding that is actually available for use in providing teachers, supplies, equipment and facility maintenance in the annual operating budget. A drop in direct aid, even if there’s added state cost for pass-through retirement costs, means fewer dollars to provide education services. And such a drop – like that faced by ten counties this year – invariably translates to great pressure on the county government to provide offsetting funds, even at the expense of other critical county programs.
As described by the Maryland Association of Boards of Education, the Governor may increase education spending in future years,
The Governor has emphasized his commitment to sustaining the state’s investment in public education, and outlined a budget that maintains enrollment and formula-driven increases in spending. However, the proposed budget would not provide the more than 1% inflation factor increase in state aid, while pledging to restore a 1% increase in FY 2017 and in future years.
For more information, read the Maryland Association of Boards of Education Green Sheet here.