Clues to the Kirwan Cost Split

The Kirwan Commission is winding down three years of work on educational issues, with far-reaching recommendations. Here, Conduit Street tries to break down what components could end up as county funding obligations.

The Kirwan Commission’s last meeting on December 6 included the first substantial wave of cost estimates on their multifold recommendations. While the Commission is still amidst deliberations, the figures represent a first look at the fiscal contours of what is expected to be a very ambitious, and expensive, set of goals.

Putting together materials from recent meetings, MACo is seeking to speculate on what the fiscal effects of such a multi-year pledge might look like on county governments. All this analysis is speculative, because the Commission and its staff have not yet released any documents that break out funding projections either between the state and counties (in aggregate), nor county-by-county.

But here, we will try to pull apart the items identified as bearing a “state/county shared responsibility” in the narrative sections of recent reports, and try to discern what a county funding component might look like in a post-Kirwan landscape.

Please note that all these estimates presume changes to state law regarding county government funding obligations, which would require statutory action by the General Assembly and Governor. To date, the Kirwan Commission has not had any briefing, nor discussion, regarding the ways to do this.

What Kirwan Items Would Be A State/County Split?

From the December 6 presentation, one document highlighted this, in broad strokes:

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From this – we’ll focus on items identified as “Add-on” in the same presentation document:

Screen Shot 2018-12-10 at 8.09.41 AMSo, from this – we will turn to materials from Work Group 3 and Work Group 4, to see these elements for some further cost breakdown.

Working Group #3: College and Career Readiness Pathways

Element 3c: Transitional Supplemental Instruction (TSI), including tutoring, for all K– 3rd-grade students identified as struggling learners.

Baseline: Dedicated funding of $2,500,000 is provided in fiscal 2019 through 2022 for the Maryland Early Literacy Program established in Chapter 361 of 2018.

Assumptions: Students scoring PARCC levels 1, 2, and 3 in English language arts for grades K–3. Grade 3 performance is a proxy for grades K–2 since PARCC begins in the third grade. In combination with the compensatory education per pupil amount, provide tutors on a 1:125 (tutor: student) ratio and tutor coordinators on a 1:11 (coordinator: tutor) ratio.

Begin transitional supplemental instruction in fiscal 2020 and fully fund through fiscal 2024. Phase out by 1/3 each year beginning in fiscal 2025.

Cost of a tutor is a blended salary amount for a teacher and a paraprofessional to reflect flexible delivery methods.

Cost of a coordinator is the salary for a teacher.

Salaries were inflated to fiscal 2020 and then, for teacher salaries, an additional 10% was phased–in over three years in accordance with the recommendations of workgroup 2.

Benefits and retirement costs are included.

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County Share: $149,792,264

Element 3g: Develop 11th and 12th-grade programs for students who do not meet the CCR standard by the end of 10th grade.

Baseline: Transition courses currently exist for students who are not CCR by the end of 11th grade, which is primarily delivering remedial education similar to what community colleges provide to students who are not ready for credit-bearing courses when they enroll.

Assumptions: The programs will be more applied, experiential, and “hands-on” than typical high school courses. They may be similar to, or even the same as, introductory CTE courses that are enhanced to provide greater proficiency in literacy and numeracy skills.

Programs for students who do not reach the CCR standard by the end of 10th grade may look similar to the college-prep and/or CTE pathways (although tailored to students’ learning needs), but will be less expensive to implement because they do not have the same program and testing fees as the CCR pathway programs.

MSDE may incur some costs to develop these programs, which can then
be disseminated to high schools in the State.

Staff Recommendation: Provide $500 for each student (in grades 11 and 12) who does not achieve the CCR standard. Funding for this element decreases over time as more students are assumed to achieve the CCR standard (with increases in funding for Element 3e).

Screen Shot 2018-12-10 at 9.10.11 AMCounty Share: $162,111,892

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County Share: $299,329,218

Element 3j: Every middle and high school student should have ready access to individuals who can counsel and advise them on CTE pathway options and help them navigate among the available and emerging opportunities.

Baseline: Guidance counseling services are already stretched thin in virtually all middle and high schools, so there is not capacity to provide these services with current staffing levels.

In SY 2017-2018, the median salary in the State for a guidance counselor was $75,780; the first quartile salary was $62,901.

In SY 2017-2018, there were 212 middle schools, 180 high schools, and 93 combined schools (which are assumed to be K-8 schools).

Assumptions: Each middle and high school will have a professional career counselor to provide the counseling services that are envisioned.

Most career counselors hired will be new counselors. Health, retirement, and other benefits are estimated to be 15% of salaries/wages.

This level of funding could be made available through grants to LEAs and/or community colleges or other partners to provide career counseling as recommended by working group 3.

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County Share: $225,057,580

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County Share (1/2 of Per pupil funding): $1,928,725,000

100% State Funding: (Coordinators, Practitioners): $1,043,847,000


The elements identified as bearing a “state/county shared responsibility” in the narrative sections of recent reports amount to $2,765,015,954 in new county funding for pre-k-12 education.

This analysis does not include costs for increasing teacher pay commensurate with advancement on the career ladder or expanding pre-kindergarten for low-income three-year-olds and four-year-olds on a sliding scale, recommendations the Commission expects will cost over $2B annually by 2030.

The Commission’s next meeting will be held on Wednesday, December 18, 2018; 9:30 am-5:30 pm, at 120 House Office Building (House Appropriations Committee Room), 6 Bladen Street, Annapolis, Maryland.

Commission materials are available on the Department of Legislative Services website, and the meetings viewable online by searching the House Appropriations Committee room on the dates of each meeting.

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.

Useful Links

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Kirwan Commission Trims Cost Estimates, Funding Formulas Still Uncertain

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Counties Weigh in on Kirwan

Conduit Street Podcast: #NG911 Report, Kirwan Testimony, Ranked-Choice Voting, #MACoCon, and County Awards

MACo’s Winter Conference will include a special roundtable session on education funding and accountability, including how Maryland counties may be affected by the recommendations of the [Kirwan] Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education. The session, “Keeping Up with Kirwan – What’s New and What’s Next for School Funding?,” is scheduled for 1:15 pm – 2:45 pm on Wednesday, January 2, 2019.

Learn more about MACo’s Winter Conference: