A bill that would allow school boards to create regional schools through local agreements has passed the Maryland Senate with a friendly amendment to clarify that county governments must also approve the agreements.
Maryland county governments are partners in school construction with the State, together funding the many construction and renovation projects that support K-12 public education.
County governments are consistently open to innovative approaches to addressing student education needs and supported Senator Hester’s legislation, County Boards of Education – Establishing Innovative Regional Schools – Authority (Cross–County Attendance to Achieve Efficiency Act of 2019).
This bill is a creative solution to make the most of school facilities throughout Maryland. When a county with declining enrollment and vacant school buildings borders a county with increasing enrollment and bursting school facilities, local school boards could coordinate attendance across county lines under this legislation.
As described in MACo’s testimony:
Regional schools are a common-sense solution that provides agility to school districts grappling with facility needs and shifting student enrollments. Allowing school boards to coordinate regional schools through a memorandum of understanding will give them the flexibility needed to maximize use of the limited resources for the best educational outcomes.
MACo worked with Senator Hester’s office to clarify the county role in any regional school agreement. The Senator considered the amendment friendly and incorporated it into the legislation prior to the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee’s vote. The amended bill has now passed the full Senate and is having its first reading in the House Ways and Means Committee.
The amended bill states:
(II) THE MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING AND ANY AMENDMENTS TO THE COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT THAT IS NEGOTIATED UNDER SUBSECTION (D)(2) OF THIS SECTION SHALL BE SUBJECT TO THE APPROVAL OF THE COUNTY GOVERNING BODY OF EACH COUNTY WHOSE COUNTY BOARD IS A PARTY TO THE MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING.
For more information, see MACo’s bill page for County Boards of Education – Establishing Innovative Regional Schools – Authority (Cross-County Attendance to Achieve Efficiency Act of 2019).