Kirwan Commission Wraps, Passes Formulas and Timetables

The Kirwan Commission completed its work on November 21, taking its final vote on funding formulas and phase-ins, and will now send its full recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly for consideration as legislation in 2020.

Commissioner, and Montgomery County Council Member, Craig Rice, engages in discussion during the final meeting of the three-year school funding commission.

The Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, regularly convening for day-long sessions since 2016, completed its work this week. Chairman Dr. William “Brit” Kirwan called it “some of the most important work I’ve done,” and members lauded their final recommendations – an ambitious set of new education investments and expectations designed to bring “world class schools” across Maryland.

From coverage in the Baltimore Sun:

Nineteen commission members voted in favor of the plan, and some offered passionate support for the increased funding, even as they noted that finding the money will be the next challenge.

Morgan Showalter, a Baltimore teacher, addressed his remarks to the students of Maryland: “We see you. We love you and we did this for you. We did this for your children and for your children’s children, because what we do here will transform generations.”

State lawmakers are now expected to consider a variety of ways to drum up more money for education. The requirement for more funding is likely to have strong support in the Democrat-led General Assembly.

The three votes against the plan were Budget Secretary David Brinkley, Senator Mary Beth Carozza from the lower Shore, and Queen Anne’s County Commissioner Jack Wilson. Montgomery County Council Member Craig Rice offered comments including reservations about the county fiscal effects, but voted to support the policy recommendations. From MACo Executive Director Michael Sanderson’s social media coverage of the final meeting:



The vote was on the unamended set of funding formulas as developed by the special work group, also chaired by Dr. Kirwan, that met through this summer and fall. The full Commission reconvened in October and November to recap that work, and to finalize their submission of these remaining details – atop the policy recommendations already issued in January of this year.Documents shared at the November 21 meeting puts the various phase-ins of policy and funding into clearer context:

Some items left unresolved by the formula workgroup, but of interest to county governments, were not addressed by the Commission. Chief among them: the duration of a separate phase-in for the county funding obligations envisioned by the proposal, and the details of a recommendation to “count” certain in-kind spending on schools toward these funding requirements. Those details will, presumably, be revealed once legislation is introduced.See Michael Sanderson’s full Twitter thread, constructed during the final meeting to follow the group’s deliberations.

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Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties