Among the numerous issues arising from the recent budget conference committee is a directive to the Maryland State Department of Education to compile and submit information on the “nonrecurring costs” process allowing counties to make one-time investments in school budgets without those funds being built into the state’s permanent funding requirements. As described in the budget narrative (which will be published as part of the annual Joint Chairmen’s Report),
Greater transparency in the costs that are considered nonrecurring, and thus may be excluded from the required maintenance of effort amount that counties must provide to their local school systems, may incentivize counties to provide more local funding to public schools.
MACo had supported HB 1145, a revision to the nonrecurring cost process as a legislative initiative for the 2014 legislative session, but resistance to the changes prevented the bill from advancing in the House. During the bill’s public hearing, stakeholders suggested that a better and broader understanding of the history of approved and rejected nonrecurring costs could help in better illuminating the process. House budget conferees received this request from MACo and others, and embedded this directive for such a report in the budget narrative.
For the FY 2015 budget cycle, eight counties have submitted nonrecurring costs for state approval (see full coverage on Conduit Street). In past years, some counties have argued the early March 31 deadline and opaque criteria for approval hinder this system’s working effectively. A report from MSDE on nonrecurring cost approvals and denials over the past five years may help clarify any needed system improvements.