Maryland State Board of Education Reviews Local Funding Requirements

December 16, 2014

At the December 16, 2014 meeting of the State Board of Education, the Board heard a presentation on state-imposed local education funding requirements – called maintenance of effort – and the process for waivers from those requirements.

The memo gives an historical perspective of the maintenance of effort (MOE) law,

In 1996 the MOE law was amended to allow local jurisdictions to apply to the State Board of Education for a one-year waiver form MOE. However, that process was not tested until 2009 when three counties applied for waivers from the fiscal year 2010 MOE requirement. The State Board denied all three waiver requests.

Two counties applied for a waiver in fiscal year 2011 and both were granted.  The State Board did not receive any waiver requests for fiscal year 2012, yet seven counties were identified by MSDE as not complying with the MOE requirement. On May 25, 2011 the State Board issues an opinion stating that the MOE statute does not require a county government to request a waiver.  As such, counties were able to rebase their MOE requirement at a lower level without State Board approval.  As a result, the General Assembly decided to conduct a comprehensive review of the MOE law. Legislation was adopted during the 2012 session that requires counties to apply for a waiver, alters the MOE penalty, refines the entire MOE process, and sets procedures for counties that want to rebase the required MOE amounts.

In the memo, Education Secretary Lillian Lowery also describes the relatively new funding escalator in the maintenance on effort law,

Beginning in Fiscal Year 2015, counties with an education effort below the statewide five-year moving average education effort must increase the per pupil MOE amounts by the lesser of:

  1. Increase in local wealth per pupil
  2. Statewide average increase in local wealth per pupil
  3. 2.5 percent

For more information, read the SBE Meeting agenda, Maintenance of Effort memo and presentation, the State Board of Education, our recent post, MOE “Escalator” Could Affect 9 Counties in FY16, and our past posts, MOE Bill Approved By House Subcommittee, UntouchedMOE Legislation Will Bring Major Changes To County/School Relationships.


Prince George’s County Schools CEO Releases $1.84B Budget

December 15, 2014

Counties are the principal unit of local government in Maryland, responsible for most basic services such as police, fire, local corrections, sanitation, highways, health, and parks and recreation. In addition, counties are responsible for funding public schools, libraries, local community colleges, and the circuit courts.  According to The Department of Legislative Services’ recent Legislative Handbook,  funding local school systems and community colleges accounts for over 50% of local government expenditures.

School systems budget requests are considered by county governments alongside other funding needs.  As reported by Gazette.net, Prince George’s Schools CEO Kevin Maxwell released a $1.84 billion FY2016 budget on December 11.  According to the report,

Maxwell’s budget is a 2.5 percent increase over last year’s $1.8 billion budget. It continues the expansion of language immersion, Montessori and full-day pre-kindergarten begun last year, and includes the creation of two international high schools for English language learners, a new Early Childhood Center and a north county Saturday school alternative program for approximately 300 students. . .

For more information about Prince George’s schools budget request, see the full story from Gazette.net.

For more information about other school budget requests, see our previous posts, Montgomery County Schools Superintendent Makes $2.4B Budget RecommendationAnne Arundel County’s Superintendent Unveils $1.1B Operating Budget.


Maryland Receives $15M Federal Grant to Expand Pre-K

December 11, 2014

As reported by WBOC16, Maryland has been awarded a $15 million federal grant to expand access to high quality pre-kindergarten for four-year olds. As reported,

Maryland’s Preschool Development Grant application spans four years and builds on the State’s pre-kindergarten Expansion Act of 2014. . .Under the expansion, the State is partnering with local providers and schools systems across the state to expand high-quality full and half day pre-K to another 1,563 children during the 2014-15 school year. After an application process was conducted by MSDE during the spring, the O’Malley-Brown Administration announced $4.3 million in grants to 24 providers spanning nearly every part of Maryland. The federal grant award announced today will expand access for nearly 3,000 additional students during the 2015-16 school year.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced that 18 states have been awarded grants, totaling more than $226 million, under the Preschool Development Grants program.

Expansion Grants (Year One) for Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge States include:

  • Illinois, $20,000,000
  • Maryland, $15,000,000
  • Massachusetts, $15,000,000
  • New Jersey, $17,498,115
  • Rhode Island, $2,290,840
  • Vermont, $7,231,681

Total: $77,020,636

For more information, see the US Department of Education, the full story from WBOC16 and our previous post Maryland Applies for Federal Preschool Expansion Grant.


Montgomery County Schools Superintendent Makes $2.4B Budget Recommendation

December 11, 2014

As reported in Gazette.net, Montgomery County’s Schools Superintendent has recommended a $2.4 billion operating budget for fiscal 2016.  As described in the article,

Starr’s proposal calls for about $126.9 million above this year’s operating budget, an increase of 5.6 percent.

Of the requested increase, $103.6 million would go toward operational costs. Another factor that would increase the budget is a requested $23.3 million, which would replace money the Montgomery County Council pulled from a school system health trust fund. The money was put toward retiree benefits this fiscal year.

For more information, see the full story in Gazette.net.


Anne Arundel County’s Superintendent Unveils $1.1B Operating Budget

December 11, 2014

As reported in the Baltimore Sun, Anne Arundel County’s school superintendent unveiled a $1.1 billion dollar operating budget Wednesday that includes 33 new teaching positions, additional support for English language learners, and expansion of magnet programs.  As reported,

Superintendent George Arlotto’s budget is a 3.6 percent increase over the previous year’s budget.

It also includes an $11.8 million place holder for salary increases — which amounts to about two percent. Several bargaining units are still negotiating how much each would get, school officials said.

For more information, see the full story from the Baltimore Sun.


Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Harford, Frederick and Washington County Schools Earn Maryland Blue Ribbon

December 11, 2014

According the Baltimore Sun, six public schools, including four in the Baltimore area, were named Wednesday as Maryland Blue Ribbon Schools.

The Maryland State Department of Education awarded the designation to Lake Shore Elementary School and Severna Park Elementary in Anne Arundel County, Pine Grove Elementary in Baltimore County and Fountain Green Elementary in Harford County.

The schools were recognized for academic excellence and, in some cases, for helping students from economically disadvantaged families succeed.

Those schools, along with Kemptown Elementary in Frederick County and Smithsburg High School in Washington County, will now apply for the National Blue Ribbon School designation, awarded by the U.S. Department of Education

For more information, see the full story from the Baltimore Sun.


MOE “Escalator” Could Affect 9 Counties in FY16

December 10, 2014

A provision of the 2012 legislation greatly expanding the state’s “maintenance of effort” law requiring county school funding may trigger direct increases in nine county school requirements for the coming year. For counties funding below a rolling state average of education effort (as calculated by law), a wealth-based escalator clause could mandate not simply maintaining per-pupil school funding, but increasing it.

In Maryland, county governments partner with the state to fund k-12 education. According to the Maryland Department of Legislative Services, in fiscal 2009, county governments were the source of 48% of all funding for public education in Maryland and provided $5.5 billion to their schools in fiscal 2013.  Recently passed state laws altered the amount of funding that counties are required to pay toward education, often employing some complicated formulas to determine funding levels from year-to-year.

The Maryland State Department of Education recently released a memo  indicating that by its calculations, nine counties in Maryland could be caught by a relatively new provision requiring them to increase their funding for k-12 education in FY2016.  As described in the memo,

According to Chapter 6 of the 2012 Legislative Session, counties below the statewide five-year moving average education effort level are required to increase their annual per pupil maintenance of effort (MOE) amounts.  Nine counties are subject to the increase in MOE in FY 2016.

The increase in MOE will be the lesser of: the county’s increase in local wealth per pupil; the statewide average increase in local wealth per pupil; or 2.5 percent.  Data is not available at this time to calculate the additional MOE requirements.  MSDE will provide this information as soon as it is available.

If this happens, FY 2016 will be the first year that the escalator clause is implemented.  The clause was in effect last year, but because the statewide average local wealth per pupil was decreasing last year, no county was forced to increase its MOE payment.  The same could be true this year, however the wealth per pupil calculations are not yet available.

The nine counties subject to the increase, according to MSDE include,

  • Allegany
  • Baltimore City
  • Caroline
  • Dorchester
  • Garrett
  • Kent
  • Talbot
  • Wicomico
  • Worcester

For more information, see the memo from MSDE and our previous posts, County Budget Officers Meet to Discuss New Maintenance of Effort RequirementsMOE Bill Escalates School Funding, Needed or Not.


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