Maintenance of Effort Waiver Deadline April 1, But Process In Flux

Even into the final days of March, the State Board of Education has taken no action to establish a process for counties seeking maintenance of effort waivers. Legislation to substantially rewrite this process is pending final approval (and virtually certain to pass, with numerous provisions having immediate effect), but as of today the relevant statute requires counties to submit FY 2013 waiver requests by April 1.

Article – Education
§5–202.

(d) (1) To be eligible to receive the State share of the foundation program:
(i) The county governing body shall levy an annual tax sufficient to provide an amount of revenue for elementary and secondary public education purposes equal to the local share of the foundation program; and
(ii) The county governing body shall appropriate local funds to the school operating budget in an amount no less than the product of the county’s full–time equivalent enrollment for the current fiscal year and the local appropriation on a per pupil basis for the prior fiscal year.

(7) (i) The provisions of this subsection do not apply to a county if the county is granted a temporary waiver or partial waiver from the provisions by the State Board of Education based on a determination that the county’s fiscal condition significantly impedes the county’s ability to fund the maintenance of effort requirement.
(ii) After a public hearing, the State Board of Education may grant a waiver under this paragraph in accordance with its regulations.
(iii) In order to qualify for the waiver under this paragraph for a fiscal year, a county shall make a request for a waiver to the State Board of Education by April 1 of the prior fiscal year.
(iv) The State Board of Education shall inform the county whether the waiver for a fiscal year is approved or denied in whole or in part by May 15 of the prior fiscal year.
(v) If the State Board of Education grants a county a temporary waiver or partial waiver from the provisions of this subsection for any fiscal year, the minimum appropriation of local funds required under this subsection for the county to be eligible to receive the State share of the foundation program for the next fiscal year shall be calculated based on the per pupil local appropriation for the prior fiscal year or the second prior fiscal year, whichever is greater.

Counties contemplating pursuing the MOE waiver process are advised to submit at least a letter of intent to the State Board of Education by the April 1 deadline, even though the pending legislation would seem to extend that deadline to April 16 this year.

To read SB 848, the legislation on its way toward passage and immediate effect to guide this process going forward, click here. From page 10 that bill, here are the new timing provisions:

In order to qualify for a waiver for a fiscal year, a county shall make a request for a waiver to the State Board by the earlier of the seventh day following the end of the legislative regular session of April 20 of the prior fiscal year.

SB 848 is an emergency bill, taking effect immediately upon the signature by the Governor, but the timing of that is unclear.

Click here to visit the State Board of Education website, which details timing and materials from FY 2012 process last spring, but does not speak to the process for the year ahead, with a nominal deadline later this week.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties

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