MACo Raises Cost Concerns with Classroom Video Installation Bill

MACo Policy Associate Drew Jabin today submitted testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee in opposition to HB 715 Public Schools – Self-Contained Special Education Classrooms – Use of Video Recording Devices. This bill requires county boards of education to install video recording devices in every self-contained special education classroom.

From the MACo Testimony:

HB 715 would implement a costly, burdensome mandate – without accompanying State support – for school systems and county governments to install and maintain recording devices in any self-contained classroom where the majority of students are special education students. Under state law, counties have no choice but to support these costs for county boards of education—competing for limited local funds against school construction, public safety, roadway maintenance, and other essential public services. Amidst a broad-based re-thinking of Maryland’s education priorities under the Kirwan Blueprint legislation, HB 715 introduces a substantial new mandated cost fully outside the basis for that new vision for school funding.

Ultimately, HB 715 is costly on multiple fronts. The Fiscal Note prepared by the Department of Fiscal Services has recognized direct costs, citing figures into the millions of dollars for each of the larger school systems. Another less clear, but still significant, concern is ongoing administrative costs to maintain the resulting footage and fully comply under Maryland’s Public Information Act, especially since this video footage will virtually always contain images of minors. Finally, there is the cost of training staff and faculty in the purpose and use of these cameras, which would be a time-intensive process.

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2021 legislative session on MACo’s Legislative Tracking Database.