Delegates Show Support for Nonrecurring Cost Legislation

A panel of county representatives testified Thursday in support of legislation to encourage county-school board partnerships and education investment.  HB1145 incorporates some of the goals of MACo’s education initiative, including an improved process for counties and school boards who are cooperating to fund one-time costs.  As described by the Department of Legislative Services,

By providing greater certainty about what items will be excluded from the MOE calculation as nonrecurring costs, the bill may provide local boards of education and county governments with greater certainty in the budgeting process.

Craig Rice, President of the Montgomery County Council, Ted Zaleski, Director of Carroll County Department of Budget & Management, Robin Clark, Policy Analyst and Michael Sanderson, Executive Director of MACo testified on the bill. Prince George’s County also submitted testimony in support of the legislation.

Delegate Anne Kaiser, sponsor of the legislation, introduced the legislation to the Committee.  Delegate Kaiser stated,

When there are nonrecurring costs they have to be approved by the State Board, and we are trying to make the process go a little faster. This is when the school boards and counties are coming together and saying, ‘Yes, this is a nonrecurring cost.’ . . . We are trying to make certainty for the counties and the school boards and speed up the process.

President Rice described,

The methodology here, in allowing us to use these nonrecurring costs, these one-time expenditures, is very important to the future and efficacy of our school system in continuing to evolve.  With the PARCC Assessments and Common Core, there are going to be a myriad of things that we need to do, and we want to make sure we are able to do so and still be fiscally responsible. . . That’s what this bill is, this doesn’t change the fact that we still have to do this in conjunction with our local school board – allow us to continue to be good teammates, allow us to work together.

Director Zaleski said,

I spend a lot of time talking with our election officials about two things: one is about being careful about commitments to ongoing funding and not creating problems for ourselves in the future and the other is about making sure we are matching one-time funding with one-time expenditures.  What is being suggested in this bill can only make it easier to do both of these things.

A clearer definition of what will qualify and a later date in the process for bringing this together will make it easier to get comfortable with the idea that we are not over-committing ongoing expenditures and will also make it easier for elected officials to choose, when money is available, to put that money into the school system budget.

The Maryland Association of Boards of Education and the Maryland State Education Association testified in opposition of the bill.  John Woolums of the Maryland Association of Boards of Education stated that his Association would prefer if funding provided for technology needs of the new PARCC Assessments were included in the mandated school budget every year, even after the requisite technology purchases and the upgrades have been made.

At the core of this bill is a predetermined list of nonrecurring costs that would include much of the forecast expenditures of school systems related to the new PARCC Assessment and evaluation system…we are very much concerned that much of these projected costs increases of school systems be excluded from maintenance of effort in the future.

During the testimony of the opposition, Delegate Kumar Barve pointed out that this legislation would only make it easier, in some circumstances, for counties to provide additional funding for one-time costs over and above required funding mandates.  “What is wrong with that?” he questioned.

To watch the testimony, click here, HB1145 begins at 1 hour 47 minutes.

For more information, see our previous posts on Conduit Street, Bill Could Fix “One Time” Funding For School Budgets and Early Deadline for Submitting School Costs as “One Time”.