School Boards, Counties Share Insights Into Education Funding Debate

Today in Annapolis, the Board of the Maryland Association of Counties and the Maryland Association of Boards of Education’s Executive Committee discuss opportunities for joint advocacy on school construction and education funding.

Leadership from MACo and MABE listen as John Bohanan speaks about school construction at a joint meeting of both organizations.

Maryland Association of Boards of Education Board President Donna Brightman of Washington County and MABE’s Executive Committee joined MACo’s Board in Annapolis to discuss possibilities for joint advocacy in 2017. The group discussed the draft adequacy study report recommendations, many of which call for dramatic shifts in state education funding. They also held a discussion of school construction funding with John Bohanan of the State Interagency Committee on School Construction.

Leadership of the two organizations specifically spoke about:

  • An increase in State funding for school construction. The Boards of Education have begun to use the phrase “$350M is the new $250M,” with reference to raising the state’s standard annual appropriation to the capital improvement program by one hundred million dollars.
  • Recommendations from the Draft Adequacy Study Report including:
  1. The elimination of state aid minimums to school districts. According to consultants in the adequacy study report, based on fiscal year 2015 numbers, three jurisdictions would receive zero state aid under this arrangement.
  2. Helping ease the transition of school districts with declining enrollment by smoothing formulas so that they do not experience a sudden drop-off in state aid.
  3. Reducing funding for a jurisdiction because its cost of education is less according to a comparable wage index.
  4. A wealth calculation that reflects local tax capacity, rather than using a multiplicative approach that magnifies differences.

Both organizations agreed the meeting was productive and to keep in touch over the next year of the Kirwan and Knott Commissions’ progress.