“Thornton II” Bill Passes With MACo Amendments

The Senate has conformed its version of a bill to create the next major review of state and local funding for K-12 students to the House version, including an amendment submitted by MACo. 

SB 905 Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education is a bill to create the next major review of state and local funding for K-12 students. The Senate initially passed a version of the legislation without any amendments. Today they conformed their version to the House crossfile, HB 999, and passed it.

The bill establishes the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education. The commission must review the findings of the study on adequacy of funding for education, due on December 1, 2016, and related studies, and provide recommendations on preparing students in the State to meet specified objectives. The commission must provide a preliminary report and a final report of its finding and recommendations to the Governor and specified committees by December 31, 2016, and December 31, 2017.

The Commission was envisioned by the The Bridge to Excellence in Public Schools Act of 2002, legislation that followed the Commission on Education, Finance, Equity, and Excellence, nicknamed the “Thornton Commission.” The membership of the 2016 Commission parallels that of the Thornton Commission, and includes two representatives of the Maryland Association of Counties, one representing an urban county and one representing a rural county.

One of the amendments added to the bill was from Maryland county governments, via MACo. This amendment would require the Commission to review the effect of state laws on county-school board relationships. Counties have concerns that current education funding laws may limit and discourage collaboration and joint efforts that are key to education success.

The amendment modifies the bill to state in part,

The Commission shall…make recommendations for…ensuring that state laws promote collaboration and joint efforts between county governments and local school systems.

For more information, see the bill information page.