Valentine: More County Voices On Funding Workgroup

Former Allegany County Commissioner Bill Valentine served as the Vice Chair of MACo’s Education Committee, and as one of the two county representatives on the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education. This item was submitted as a letter to the editor to multiple Maryland news outlets. We run it here, with his permission.

As a former Allegany County Commissioner, I am proud to have served over two years on the Kirwan Commission (Md. Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education) to help create better education in Maryland.  I was appointed to represent the rural counties of the State. An interim report was submitted in January of 2019, offering numerous proposals, all coming with a rather hefty price tag. A sub-committee (The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Funding Formula Workgroup ) has now been created to make recommendations for the distribution of funds by LEA and between State and local governments. This workgroup will also make recommendations for specific funding formulas.

Commissioner William R. ValentineI am greatly troubled by the make-up of the workgroup, which has only one member to represent the interests of the counties. Since most of this work will focus on how costs will be divided between State and County governments, I would think the group should be better populated by County Executives, County Administrators, County Finance Directors and elected County officials. A large financial burden will be placed on the counties to help fund Kirwan Commission proposals, and yet, the workgroup consists mainly of State Senators and Delegates, and education representatives. The counties will be tasked with funding these new unfunded mandates, without having an equal voice at the table. Only one member will be representing county interests.

Education is important and must improve in our great state, but the counties that spend over 50% of their budgets on education, should have greater representation on the workgroup. With all teachers receiving a 10% wage increase, and the starting salaries for teachers being increased to $60,000/year, increases to the counties will be substantial. This workgroup will also decide if full-day Pre-K students and full-day Kindergarten students will be added to county Maintenance of Effort requirements. Counties are true funding partners for educations, but once again have been closed-out of funding discussions. This is the type of action that causes problems between county governments and local Boards of Education

Bill Valentine


School funding, and the funding workgroup described above, will be a central topic at the upcoming MACo Summer Conference.

MACo’s 2019 Summer Conference, “Winds of Change,” will take place on August 14-17 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, MD. Nearly 3,000 individuals from across Maryland will gather to discuss advancements and changes being seen at all levels of government, from cybersecurity to Phase III WIP to school funding.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties