House Narrows “Half Harmless” Education Funding Bill To Small Counties

On Saturday, the House of Delegates passed two bills targeting funding relief for small school districts whose declining enrollment causes a drop in total state school funding. The bill would offset half of the formula-driven state funding decline, for each year from FY 2015 through FY2017.  The two bills, HB 814 and SB 534, represent a narrower approach than had previously been passed by the Senate.

The House’s amendments to SB 534 (matching it to HB 814) restricted its effect to only small school districts (with fewer than 5,000 students), and only when declining enrollment is the source of funding drops.  According to the analysis by the Department of Legislative Services, the bill would increase State education aid in FY2015 by $464,100 for Garrett County and by $131,000 for Kent County.

The final FY 2015 budget (also passed on Saturday) also included $464,103 in additional funding for Garrett County and $130,982 for Kent County.

While the Senate and House have not yet completed work on the legislation (with a multi-year effect), all indications point toward the narrower version (with funding for only two school systems) being the resolution for at least FY 2015, and perhaps for the years ahead.

For more information, see our previous posts, “Half Harmless” Funding Bill Passing, Education Bills Present Change In Western Maryland, and the bill information pages for HB 814 and SB 534.