The State Board of Education granted maintenance of effort (MOE) waiver requests to both Montgomery and Wicomico Counties in split votes on May 25. Due to uncertainties regarding the State budget, which was not finalized before the deadline for submitting MOE waiver requests, five counties initially applied for a waiver: Dorchester, Frederick, Montgomery, Talbot and Wicomico Counties. However, all but Montgomery and Wicomico subsequently withdrew their waiver requests.
The Gazette reported on the Montgomery County waiver:
With the 7-5 vote, the state school board allows the county government to fund the schools at a level below this year’s funding. …
County Executive Isiah Leggett’s proposed county schools’ budget for fiscal 2011, which begins July 1, was $137.7 million less than what the school system requested. The county sought a $137.7 million waiver from the state school board.
Reasoning the school system couldn’t take cuts beyond what already was proposed, schools’ Superintendent Jerry D. Weast, who has been vocal against school cuts, supported the waiver request. He called the case for the waiver “overwhelming.” …
Leggett said it was “wonderful” the state school board granted the county’s waiver request. As for the board’s reasons for granting the waiver, Leggett said the panel recognized the county’s dire financial circumstances, which have necessitated furloughs, layoffs and the elimination of pay raises for the upcoming fiscal year.
Wicomico County also issued the following press release on May 25:
Following a 9:30 A.M. appearance today by Wicomico County Executive Richard M. Pollitt, Jr. and Director of Finance Patricia Petersen before the Maryland State Board of Education in Baltimore, the Board voted 8-to-4 in favor of granting a waiver on the county’s Maintenance of Effort requirement for education funding. The Wicomico County Board of Education will now receive an additional $1.5 Million in state funds.
Upon receiving the news of the positive vote, Mr. Pollitt said, “Against all odds, we were able to persuade the Board that Wicomico County would not be able to provide its required share of funding to our K-12 school children in next year’s budget. I suggested to them that they could mitigate the impact of county cuts somewhat by granting the waiver. We are delighted that the State Board agreed and that our school program will receive the extra funding.”