Focus for the Next Education Funding Commission

MACo Director of Research, Robin Clark Eilenberg testified in support with amendments for SB 905, Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, to the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee on March 1, 2016.

This legislation establishes the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education to review the findings of the Study of Adequacy in Education Funding in Maryland and to make recommendations for changes to Maryland’s current state and local education funding.

County governments have several concerns regarding current education funding formulas and the proposed composition of the commission. To ensure that these concerns are addressed head-on by the Commission, MACo suggests the legislation be amended.

From the MACo testimony,

MACo supports a multi-stakeholder review of education funding requirements and formulas, many of which could benefit from updating and reconsideration. MACo also appreciates the inclusion of two county representatives on the Commission, analogous to those on the “Thornton” Commission during the last major such review.

Primary among county concerns are current laws governing local education appropriations. The legislation currently states that the Commission will recommend how to ensure that education funds are being spent efficiently and effectively and that local school systems are allocating their resources to improve student achievement.

Current state funding requirements fail to encourage efficient use of funds by local school boards and too often prevent a collaborative relationship between funding and student achievement. To address these issues, MACo suggests language in the Commission’s charge seeking recommendations on how to revise state laws to further promote collaboration, joint county/school efforts, and efficiency.

MACo requests the Committee give a favorable with amendments report to SB 905 to make sure the Commission directly addresses this and other concerns. Read the whole testimony on MACo’s Legislative Database.

An identical cross-filed bill, HB 999, will be heard on March 3 in the House.

For more on 2016 MACo legislation, visit the Legislative Database.