FY 14 Maintenance of Effort Waivers – New Process, April 15 Deadline

Any county seeking a waiver from the “maintenance of effort” requirement for school funding much submit a waiver application by April 15.  The process for FY14 waivers will be substantially altered from that in prior years.

The deadline for maintenance of effort waiver requests is April 15 this year.  According to State law, the deadline for submitting maintenance of effort waiver requests is 7 days from the last day of the General Assembly’s regular session, or April 20.  This year, the last day of the regular session is April 8, so the deadline for waiver requests is April 15.

Under state law, the State Board of Education may grant a waiver if a county’s fiscal condition significantly impedes the county’s ability to fund the maintenance of effort requirement; there is an agreement between the county and the county board to reduce recurring costs; or a county’s ability to meet the maintenance of effort requirement is permanently impeded. The factors considered by the State Board of Education include:

  1. External environmental factors such as a loss of a major employer or industry affecting a county or a broad economic downturn affecting more than one county;
  2. A county’s tax base;
  3. Rate of inflation relative to growth of student population in a county;
  4. Maintenance of effort requirement relative to a county’s statutory ability to raise revenues;
  5. A county’s history of exceeding the required maintenance of effort amount . . . ;
  6. An agreement between a county and a county board that a waiver should be granted;
  7. Significant reductions in State aid to a county and municipalities of the county for the fiscal year for which a waiver is requested;
  8. The number of waivers a county has received in the past 5 years; and
  9. The history of compensation adjustments for employees of the county board and county government.

If a waiver request is filed, the State Superintendent must provide a preliminary assessment of the waiver request to the State Board.   Then, before acting on a request for a waiver, the State Board shall hold a public hearing in accordance with regulations adopted by the State Board.

In prior years, the State Board of education provided county governments with a letter detailing the process, applications requirements, and timing of decisions. According to State Board staff, the Board does not intend to offer comparable guidance to county governments for the FY 14 waiver process. See the details of prior year guidance via a previous Conduit Street posting.

For further information see the relevant statutes (Section 5-202 of the Education Article), the Maryland State Board of Education index, and our previous posts on Conduit Street.