State Board of Education Sides With Counties on MOE Interpretation Issue

In its Opinion No. 11-29, the State Board of Education has ruled on several matters of interpretation regarding county obligations under the state’s “Maintenance of Effort” (MOE) laws for school funding. In short, the State Board agreed with Montgomery County Government and MACo that the state law does not require each county to fund at least the MOE level for each school year, but rather that the MOE funding level is a requirement to receive that year’s incremental increase in state school funding.

The opinion contains a number of issues and discussions, but one on-point segment reads:

“In its Petition, the local board [Montgomery County’s school board] argues that the legal requirement to fund MOE creates an iron-clad rule that the county’s proposed and final budget for education can never be less than local share plus MOE. That argument stretches the law too far. The recent amendment to §5-103 confirms that the minimum amount to be budgeted is the local share.”

The final conclusion to the opinion reads:

CONCLUSION

For all these reasons, we declare:

(1) The statutory language of Education Article §5-202 imposes a legal requirement on a county government to fund fully local share and MOE while Education Article §5-103 establishes the absolute minimum — the local share — that must be requested in the local board’s budget and funded by the county government.

(2) The MOE statute does not require a county government to request a waiver;

(3) Under §5-103(c), a county council has the authority to reduce the proposed education budget.

Read the full opinion here.

For background, the initial filings and responses leading to this matter being before the State Board are linked below:
Board of Education of Montgomery County – petition and memorandum
MACo response
Montgomery County response

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties

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