Education Funding Commission Holds First Meeting

The Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education meets in Annapolis, beginning discussions of state and local support for schools to continue over the course of the next year.

As reported by the Maryland Associations of Boards of Education (MABE),

On September 29, 2016 the “Kirwan” Commission held its first meeting. Commission Chair, William E. “Brit” Kirwan, opened the meeting by emphasizing that this was a rare opportunity to be on such a commission, and that although the charge is very broad, the task at hand is essentially to make recommendations on how to make our schools better, and that we owe it to students to develop a system that is as good as the best in the world. The 23 Commission members in attendance introduced themselves and offered brief remarks on their priorities for the Commission work.

In introductions, MACo’s representatives shared introductory remarks:

  • Montgomery County Council Member Craig Rice stated that investment in education is sound economic policy.
  • Allegany County Commissioner William Valentine stated that in his rural county, funding K-12 makes up 96% of property tax income.

During the meeting’s discussions and presentations, both Commissioners were vocal advocates on topics of county concerns.

Council Member Craig Rice speaks to the value of investment in education.

Council Member Rice spoke on the need for promoting and supporting career counseling and raised the topic of teacher pension costs. Defending against the notion that federal formula changes are resulting in a greater number of students becoming eligible for free-and-reduced-price meal-based aid, he shared the reality of serving students from lower income families since the economic recession,

“There are definite trends we have seen – our constituents have gotten poorer. We in Montgomery County have continued to drop in wealth and the numbers of free-and-reduced-price meals students have continued to grow. It is an often-quoted fact, but Montgomery County has more free-and-reduced-price meals students than DC has students.”

Commissioner Valentine raises issues facing rural jurisdictions in Maryland.

On the topic of wealth calculations and local education funding mandates, Allegany County Commissioner raised the incongruous effect of the housing bubble, which made some of the poorest jurisdictions in the state, including his, look the wealthiest according to state formulas. Committee staff said that the wealth formula would be considered in much greater detail by the Commission.

The Commission’s next meeting will be held on Monday, October 31, 2016; 1-4:30 pm, at 120 House Office Building (House Appropriations Committee Room), 6 Bladen Street, Annapolis, Maryland.

For more information, contact Robin Clark at MACo, and read the presentations from the meeting.