The segments below provide a brief overview of MACo’s work in the area of education policy in the 2021 General Assembly.
Counties support education as the largest component of their budgets, with operating and capital support for schools typically representing a larger share of a county budget than all other functions combined. Statutory formulas drive most state-level funding, which requires constant attention to the state-county balance in funding responsibilities. The burden of costly mandates can fall on county budgets unless state resources are provided. MACo typically advocates for fair and accountable school funding and opposes unfunded new requirements.
This year the Maryland General Assembly conducted a legislative session unlike any other due to the enduring COVID-19 pandemic. The unique circumstances surrounding the 442nd legislative session, including necessary health and safety measures, posed a challenge for lawmakers and advocates alike. Despite the unusual circumstances, MACo’s advocacy still led to more positive outcomes for its members.
For more information on Maryland’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic visit MACo’s COVID-19 resource page.
MACo supported legislation that would clarify and strengthen the funding connection between four-year and two-year schools by requiring non-capital appropriation to be included in the annual calculation of community college aid under the State’s Senator John A. Cade Funding Formula. The sensible calcifications on appropriation calculations would potentially prevent the need for tuition increases due to budget cutbacks and thus encourage greater attendance. The bill passed both chambers and awaits the Governor’s signature.
MACo opposed legislation that sought to establish collective bargaining rights for community college employees, leading to increases in county expenditures. Unfortunately, despite MACo’s efforts, this legislation passed both chambers and it awaits the Governor’s signature.
MACo supported legislation that would have fulfilled the original intent of the Cade funding formula by increasing the State’s funding percentage for community colleges. Community Colleges and Private Nonprofit Institutions of Higher Education – Funding passed the Senate but did not move out of the House.
MACo opposed legislation that would have placed a costly mandate on school systems and county governments to install video recording devices in every special education classroom in every public school in the State. his bill did not advance out of committee following its public hearing in the 2021 General Assembly.
School Resource Officer Funding
MACo opposed two pieces of legislation that would have diverted the state funding currently supporting the costly mandate of providing adequate local law enforcement coverage in schools to an additional school-based program focusing on mental health and behavioral services. This re-direction of funds – but increase in deliverables – would have left school budgets or local law enforcement to contemplate reductions in other education and public safety offerings to do so. Neither Primary and Secondary Education – Mental Health Services – Expansion (Counselors Not Cops Act) nor Primary and Secondary Education – Expansion of Mental Health Services and Prohibition of School Resource Officers (Police–Free Schools Act) advanced out of committee following bill hearings.
Child Care Assistance
MACo supported legislation that would create the Growing Family Child Care Opportunities Pilot Program under the State Department of Education with the purpose of awarding grants to establish and support child care programs in Maryland. Maryland county governments all have a common goal of providing for the health and wellbeing of children in their community, and this bill creates a new funding resource to encourage affordable, quality child care across all jurisdictions. Growing Family Child Care Opportunities Pilot Program – Established passed both chambers and awaits the Governor’s signature.
MACo supported legislation that would have would provided a narrow and reasonable exception to current regulations in order for certain youth development organizations and departments to provide out-of-school services. Education – Child Care Centers and Youth Development Organizations and Programs (Support Youth Development for School-Age Children Act) passed the House, but did not receive a hearing in the Senate.
For more information on education legislation tracked by MACo during the 2021 legislative session, click here.