School Construction Funding Percents Static Through 2020

Maryland’s county governments will receive the same percentages of funding from the State on their school construction projects in FY 2020, despite formula calculations that would have decreased the State’s share in some cases.

Dr. Karen Salmon, State Superintendent

Maryland counties and the State share school construction costs – each providing some of the funding for new school buildings and major renovations.

The amount that the State provides on any given project is determined in part by percentages set in State law. The percentages are intended to promote wealth equalization, so the State provides more funding to school systems with less local wealth.

This coming year, the calculus used to determine the percentage in each county would have led to several counties receiving less funding on a project-by-project basis from the State. For example, in Harford County, the State’s contribution to the project would have been reduced from 63% to 60% in fiscal year 2020. & other counties and Baltimore City would have seen reductions. For more information see, Local Aid Percentages Still Undecided in Quirky Year for School Construction and the IAC meeting agenda from January.

At the January meeting of the Interagency Commission on School Construction, however, State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon defended the need to preserve state funding levels and put forth an alternative motion. That alternative motion carried unanimously, maintaining the percentages for the 2019 fiscal year for the 2020 fiscal year.

From the minutes of the Jan meeting:

FY 2020 State Cost Share Percentages Alternative Motion Carried

Ms. Spivey referred the IAC to background material showing adopted figures for FY 2018 as calculated and figures adopted by the BPW for FY 2019 that held harmless 9 counties that would have experienced a decrease from FY 2018 to FY 2019. Staff requested approval of the FY 2020 State cost shares as calculated in the summer of 2018.

Dr. Salmon stated that in a time when the IAC is interested in doing as much as possible to promote school construction in Maryland, she would propose not decreasing any State shares for FY 2020. Members of the workgroup echoed Dr. Salmon’s concerns. In response to questions from the Commission, Ms. Spivey explained that the main base of the calculation formula is the Foundation program formula as calculated by MSDE, along with several add-ons, as outlined in COMAR. Add-ons are based on factors such as free and reduced price meal percentages, the status of the county as a One Maryland county, the amount of local outstanding debt, and growth. Ms. Spivey noted that Steve Brooks with MSDE has a presentation that has been shared with various groups to explain the formula.

Upon a motion by Dr. Salmon with a second by Secretary Churchill, the IAC voted unanimously to approve the continuation of the use of FY 2019 State cost share percentages. Mr. Schuler was absent for the vote.

In the future, based on legislation passed in 2018, the state-local cost share percentages will be updated every two years, rather than every three years. Beginning this spring the staff of the school construction program will work with the Maryland State Department of Education to develop the cost shares for 2021 and 2022.

For more information, see the state-local school construction percentages.

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