The high profile Kirwan Blueprint bill, HB 1300, appears to be in its final posture, following a late series of amendments, and an eventual bipartisan Senate vote.
After three years of the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, and a vigorous legislative debate stretching two sessions, the landmark education plan is nearing its final stages. A 37-9 vote in the Maryland Senate late Monday night, following an extensive set of eleventh hour amendments, appear to mark the bill’s final form.
Technically, the bill must return to the House of Delegates for either a “concurrence” or the appointment of conferees to begin a process of reconciling the two chambers’ approaches. Intimations on the Senate floor strongly suggested that the former course would be forthcoming – MACo advises county officials and stakeholders to evaluate the Senate bill, with its final set of amendments (offered for the first time on the Senate floor in advance for its final vote) as the likely legislative offering that will be sent to the Governor’s desk.
The Governor’s position on the bill is not yet clear. He has offered critical comments at various times about the direction of the Commission, and the potential costs of the proposal. Several Republican senators, however, eventually supported the bill in its final vote on the Senate floor.
No “reprint” of the bill – incorporating the multiple Senate-adopted amendments, has yet been made available. If one is developed, it will be placed on the page linked above.
In a significant move, the Senate adopted amendments that would limit the Kirwan reforms in the event of a substantial economic downturn ― which many predict the spread of coronavirus will cause. Under the amended bill, if state revenues drop by 7.5% in a given year, the Kirwan plans would be put on hold and increases to education spending would be limited to the rate of inflation.
The Senate also amended the bill to provide what members call an academic oversight “checkpoint.” In fiscal year 2025, if an oversight board determines the reforms are not being properly implemented or achieving increased student performance, the funding boost for schools would be halted. The amended bill says a future legislature would then be instructed to “take immediate action to adjust the formula and polices … to achieve the goals” of the Kirwan Commission.