Kirwan Commission 11/12: Fazed by Phase-In; Triggered by Teacher Testing

The Kirwan Commission’s latest meeting saw a deep reaction to the formula funding workgroup’s proposals to “phase in” the Commission’s series of recommendations, and also focused on MSDE pending regulations for teacher certification.

The Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education held its latest meeting on November 12, advancing their discussions toward a year-end final report.

Phase-In of Recommendations

The most compelling discussion of the day came as the full Commission heard from representatives of the formula funding workgroup convened to guide the monetary and distributional aspects of the plan.


The table above shows the multi-year phase-in of funding items, by “policy area” as detailed by the full Commission. A full-page pdf of the table is available online. Several Commission members asked questions about the timing, with questions and comments reflecting their concern that the “priorities” of the full Commission had been altered by the work of the formula funding work group. Workgroup representatives and staff resisted this suggestion, but the Commission’s discussion revealed tensions regarding the evolution toward a more “smooth” phase-in, as dictated by the General Assembly.

Other documents from the meeting discussing funding and timing issues:

Commission members discussed, at the end of the meeting, a potential new funding mandate for special education services. Multiple Commission members offered support for some variation on the notion, but the motion (after being amended by group discussion) was “tabled” to be re-raised at a future Commission meeting.

Among the potential elements of such a funding mandate may be that counties would be obliged to maintain local funds targeted toward special education services, even if that population declines. A reduction of 50% of the special education student population is a central vision of the Kirwan Commission recommendations, and is a major element of the “cost savings” embedded into its multi-year forecasts. The apparent incongruity between the State funding and the potential local funding mandate was not discussed during the Commission’s conversation, prior to its being tabled.

Teacher Certification – Pending Regulations

The first segment of the November 12 meeting focused on regulations proposed by the State Department of Education, and currently still pending. Commission members heard from multiple stakeholders, who raised concerns with both substance and process of the pending regulations. Since the Commission has discussed a “career ladder” extensively, a presentation on the Department regulations and the recommendations of the Commission was assembled and centered the discussion.

Documents from this section of the meeting:


The Commission recessed following its full day meeting, for a short break before conducting a two hour public hearing on the recommendations of the formula funding workgroup, as well as the work of the Commission itself.

As always materials from the meeting, and video of each segment, are available on the Commission website.

Keeping up with Kirwan? Don’t miss school funding sessions at MACo’s Winter Conference:

Learn more about MACo’s Winter Conference:

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Questions? Contact Virginia White at

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties