State to Poorest Counties: Pony Up

Ten counties are required to escalate their education spending beyond what they provided in years past based on a formula set in state law since 2012. Seven of the counties caught in the mandate also have the lowest wealth per pupil in the State. 

The Maryland State Department of Education has released draft calculations for State education aid for FY 2019. The figures could change based on legislation passed by the General Assembly this legislative session.

The draft calculations show that multiple counties are again caught in a relatively new provision of law called the maintenance of effort escalator. Nine counties were in the same position last year.

This year, Dorchester and Somerset counties will be required to increase their education budgets. Last year they did not have to because their local wealth per pupil was decreasing.

Counties required to permanently increase their per-pupil payments are those that fall below a statewide moving average of education contributions as compared with local wealth. From year-to-year, some of the state’s least wealthy counties have fallen into this category.

Here is a ranking by the Department of Legislative Services of the counties in Maryland with the least wealth per student. The seven lowest ranking counties are also caught in the escalator formula this year.

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As shown in the chart below, 10 counties will be required to increase their education pending by the amount of the increase in their wealth per pupil (WPP), up to a maximum of 1.5%. Those counties where wealth per pupil is falling are not required to increase their payments this year, though they may be required to do so next year if their local wealth per pupil increases.

Screenshot 2018-02-20 12.30.20

For more background, see 9 Counties Swept Up In Education Funding Escalator and Q&A: Maryland’s Education Funding Escalator