Extra for Education in Baltimore County Budget

April 16, 2014

As reported by WBAL,  Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced his proposed budget for fiscal year 2015, which devotes more money to schools with no increases to property or income taxes for the 26th year in a row.

Under the plan, $1.1 billion would go to school renovation and construction as part of a 10-year plan called Schools for Our Future. Kamenetz said it would add an additional 11,000 seats in county schools and would bring air conditioning to 97 percent of school buildings.

The school funds would also go toward investing in wireless classrooms, digital instructional materials, the One-Card safety identification system and expanded pre-Kindergarten access, as well as start-up costs for a new elementary school in Owings Mills.

The plan would also implement 90 new teaching positions to support enrollment growth and the opening of the new Mays Chapel Elementary School, as well as increase special education staffing.

For more information, see the full story from WBAL.

Other highlights of the Baltimore County proposed budget can be found on Baltimore County’s website.

Radio Show Covers Common Core Bills in General Assembly

April 16, 2014

Maryland Morning with Sheila Kast reviews education bills affecting common core implementation in Maryland from this past legislative session. Kast speaks with John White of the Maryland State Department of Education, Sean Johnson of the Maryland State Education Association, and the Maryland Reporter’s Glynis Kazanjian about several bills that would have changed implementation of the common core standards and the use of common core student test scores in teacher evaluations.

As described,

The General Assembly considered several bills to change implementation of the Common Core State Standards—or as Maryland refers to it—the ‘Maryland College and Career Ready Standards.’ Only three bills passed.

HB 1167 is one of the bills that the General Assembly passed this year.  HB 1167 Teachers and Principals – Performance Evaluation Criteria – Use of Student Growth Data prohibits use of student test scores for teacher evaluations and personnel decisions before the 2016-2017 school year. According to the Department of Legislative Services, as revised, the prohibition does not apply to a local school system and an exclusive employee representative that mutually agree to use student growth data based on the State assessments to make personnel decisions in accordance with an agreement executed on or after January 1, 2014, and before March 1, 2014.

For more information, listen to the complete segment of Maryland Morning.

2014 “90 Day Report” Now Available On General Assembly Website

April 16, 2014

The “90 Day Report” is now available online on the Maryland General Assembly website.  The Department of Legislative Services produces this report each year, which summarizes major issues discussed and/or enacted during the General Assembly session.

Sections of particular interest to local governments are listed below.

Baltimore City School Board Seeks to Responsibly Manage Schools Budget

April 16, 2014

As reported in the Baltimore Sun, a slowdown in revenue has Baltimore school officials looking for budget adjustments that won’t require the system to raid its rainy-day fund. The Sun describes,

Board members note the district faces several major expenditures that could require the use of a deep rainy-day fund: a facilities plan that will require a $20 million annual expense for several decades, pay-for-performance union contracts and rising costs such as transportation.

“We knew things were not going to get easier,” Shanaysha Sauls, chairwoman of the city school board, said, adding, “but using the fund balance to pay for recurring expenses is a temporary solution, at best.” . . . Sauls pointed out the reserve fund is even more important because the district’s most consistent revenue stream is tied to enrollment. “So what’s left, but the responsible management of existing resources?” she said.

According to the Sun, the school system operates on an annual budget of about $1.2 billion.
For more information, see the full story from the Baltimore Sun.

Second Annual Green School Summit

April 15, 2014

GSS-no-sponsors1-e1394228932210The US Green Building Council of Maryland Green Schools Committee has announced the 2nd Annual DC MD NoVA Green School Summit, The Intersection of STEM and Sustainability. This year’s event will be at Cardozo High School in DC on April 26th.  The Committee designed the summit to bring together all major stakeholders in green school construction.

The second annual Green School Summit will also serve as the culmination of  the DC Green Schools Challenge – See more at: http://www.usgbcncr.org/event/GSS#sthash.cayG1J7z.dpuf
The second annual Green School Summit will also serve as the culmination of  the DC Green Schools Challenge – See more at: http://www.usgbcncr.org/event/GSS#sthash.cayG1J7z.dpuf
The second annual Green School Summit will also serve as the culmination of  the DC Green Schools Challenge – See more at: http://www.usgbcncr.org/event/GSS#sthash.cayG1J7z.dpuf

As described by the Committee,

Our team has been working hard to put together a terrific event that should provide inspiration and information while also providing an opportunity to meet with like-minded professionals such as yourself.  We have an awesome keynote speaker lined up (Charles Orgbon, the founder and CEO of Greening Forward), a choice of green school tours (Cardozo Senior High School and Dunbar High School), and lots of great learning sessions (including a workshop by last year’s dynamic keynote speaker, Stephen Ritz of Bronx Green Machine).

For more information, including the full program and schedule, visit the event website.


The second annual Green School Summit will also serve as the culmination of  the DC Green Schools Challenge – See more at: http://www.usgbcncr.org/event/GSS#sthash.cayG1J7z.dpuf

Boards of Education Release Legislative Session Summary

April 15, 2014

The Maryland Association of the Boards of Education (MABE) released their summary of the 2014 legislative session, including a description of bills that passed and failed  relating to education funding and school construction.

The Green Sheet, as the summary is named, shows where MABE joined MACo in supporting and opposing legislation, and the areas where our two organizations diverged.  MABE and MACo both opposed House Bill 727/Senate Bill 232 Procurement-Prevailing Wage-Applicability.  Unfortunately, despite the opposition, the legislation passed.   As MABE states, the result of this law is a dramatic expansion of the application of mandated prevailing wage rates, which will increase future costs of school construction projects.

However, MABE opposed HB 349 Education – Maintenance of Effort – Lease Payment Exclusion, which MACo supported. And MABE also opposed House Bill 1145 Maintenance of Effort – Qualifying Nonrecurring Costs – Methods of Approval, MACo’s initiative bill.  HB 349 would have encouraged private investment in school construction through allowing lease payments towards schools built with private funding to be excluded from other education funding calculations. HB 1145 would have created incentives for additional investment in education above required funding mandates.

The Green Sheet also list “Session Highlights,” of education legislation that passed and failed this session, including the passage of the Prekindergarten Expansion Act of 2014, and the failure of a bill to shift the burden of proof in due process hearings for children with disabilities.

highlightsFor more information, see MABE’s Green Sheet.



Analysis Shows Poor Students Less Likely to Have Effective Teachers

April 11, 2014

As reported by the Center for American Progress,  an analysis of the newest data, we find that in some areas, poor students and students of color are far less likely than others to have expert teachers.  The Center for American Progress is an independent nonpartisan educational institute founded to provide long-term leadership and support to the progressive movement.

As described by the Center, new educator evaluation data sheds light on the issue of education equality,

Now that some states have evaluations of teacher effectiveness based on new accountability measures, it is possible to glean information about the distribution of teachers across school demographics. We made the following findings:

  • The new evaluation data confirms previous findings—in many places, poor children and children of color are less likely to be taught by a highly effective teacher.
  • Despite the overall pattern of inequitable distribution, there are some places where excellent teachers are more evenly deployed.
  • The places with a more balanced distribution of effective teachers are where we should look to learn about the policies and practices that help give all students access to great teaching.

According to the Center for American Progress, Federal officials at the U.S. Department of Education are about to issue a new strategy to require all states to update their plans to ensure that every student has equal access to high-quality teaching.

For more information, see the Center for American Progress.

Expert Offers Education Policy Critique

April 11, 2014

As described in an an education-focused segment of the Washington Post, Larry Cuban, a former high school teacher and superintendent who now teaches at Stanford University recently published a book on education policy, “Inside the Black Box of Classroom Practice: Change without Reform in American Education.” Cuban describes some of his concerns with education policy in the book and on his blog.  One example he uses is the current policy debate over the use of technology in schools. He writes,

Politically smart state and local policymakers believe that buying new tablets loaded with new software, deploying them to K-12 classrooms, and watching how the devices engage both teachers and students is a “best practice.” The theory is that student engagement through the device and software will dramatically alter classroom instruction and lead to improved  achievement. The problem, of course (you no doubt have guessed where I was going with this) — is that evidence of this electronic innovation transforming teaching and achievement growth is not only sparse but also unpersuasive even when some studies show a small “effect size.”

For more information, see the full story from the Washington Post.

The use of technology in schools was frequently discussed by Maryland’s legislators during the legislative session, especially with regard to the need for additional technology to meet Common Core curriculum and PARCC assessments needs.  For more information, read about the legislation, Digital Equity for All Maryland Students Act of 2014, and our previous posts on Conduit Street, Estimated $100M Needed for MD Schools to Administer New Assessments.


WYPR Profiles “Education Battles”

April 11, 2014

WYPR’s Midday With Dan Rodricks recently featured a discussion of three education topics in Maryland, including common core, school funding, and class schedule changes.  The show’s host, Dan Rodricks, speaks with Harford County Executive David Craig and Baltimore County Superintendent of School Dallas Dance among others.  As described by Midday,

A look at three education battles in Maryland. Dan talks with Liz Bowie, education reporter for The Baltimore Sun, about the controversial Common Core curriculum. Then: Harford County Executive David Craig and Ryan Burbey of the Harford County Education Association, on what Burbey says is a dire lack of adequate school funding there. Finally, a look at controversial class schedule changes taking place in Baltimore County with Superintendent Dallas Dance and Wendy Flowers, a Hereford parent speaking for Hereford Works, a group that opposes the changes.

For more information, listen to the complete radio show from Midday With Dan Rodricks.


Western Maryland Scores Some Late Session Legislative Wins

April 9, 2014

As reported in the Cumberland Times-News, the Maryland General Assembly saved some of the best for last, from Western Maryland’s standpoint, by passing several bills with an effect on that region late in the session.

A few of the bills passed in the final days include:

  • Bond bill money for the Allegany County Animal Shelter Management Foundation, Friends Aware, Christian Crossings Thrift Shop and HART for Animals. Each organization will receive $100,000.
  • School funding to help school districts facing decreases in state aid because of declining student enrollment, such as Garrett County. Allegany County has faced a similar problem in the past.
  • A downtown tax credit bill designed to help attract developers and support building owners hoping to make the upper stories of downtown buildings more attractive.

For more information, see Best for last – Legislative action will have positive local impact from the Cumberland Times-News and our previous post on Conduit Street, House Narrows “Half Harmless” Education Funding Bill To Small Counties.


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