Blueprint Oversight Board Pens Letter to Governor on its Initial Work

The Blueprint Accountability and Implementation Board sent a letter to Governor Larry Hogan on February 16 outlining its initial work and proposed updated timeline, and urging full funding for Baltimore City and Prince George’s County.

In a February 16 letter addressed to Governor Larry, the Blueprint Accountability and Implementation Board (AIB) updated leadership on its first few months of work, proposed a new timeline with adjusted deadlines, and urged the state to fully fund adjustment of effort school funding for Baltimore City and Prince George’s County.

The Blueprint Accountability and Implementation Board (AIB) is tasked with overseeing the implementation of Maryland’s major education policy reform initiative known as the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future.

The February 16 letter opened acknowledging the board’s strong work, despite its late start:

As you know, the AIB members were not officially appointed until November 2021 instead of the anticipated date of July 1. Since then, the board has held 9 meetings to orient ourselves to our charge to oversee the faithful implementation of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future law and to establish both the board and a new agency. One of the first orders of business was to begin recruitment for an Executive Director. The board was pleased to announce the selection of Rachel Hise as the first executive director in late January 2022. She began work full time for the AIB on February 7, 2022, as the singular staff. Four additional permanent positions will be available when the State budget is enacted in April and 10 more positions in July 2022.

It continued by addressing its budget shortcomings, which it said is sufficient for now, but not for ongoing operations, and requested permission to carryover any remaining funds at the end of FY ’22 into its FY ’23 budget:

The AIB currently has approximately $1.35 million in its budget for fiscal 2022 in accordance with the supplementary appropriations provided by Chapter 356 of 2021 enacted by the General Assembly. That funding is sufficient to support the AIB’s start-up operations for now. Building a new agency from the ground up has its own challenges and takes time. The AIB anticipates receiving most, if not all, of its full $4.8 million fiscal 2022 budget authorization by June 30, 2022, which is the end of the fiscal year. However, based on the flow of fantasy sports and sports betting revenues, the bulk of that funding will be received near the end of the fiscal year. The AIB will not be able to encumber it all and potentially a significant portion will revert at the end of the fiscal year. There are also several other Blueprint programs that receive supplementary appropriations in Chapter 356 that will be in a similar situation; further, a number of those programs do not have an appropriation in the fiscal 2023 budget, including Expert Review Teams and the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Committee. The Board respectfully requests that the AIB and other Blueprint programs receiving fiscal 2022 supplementary appropriations be permitted to carryover any remaining funds at the end of fiscal 2022 into the fiscal 2023 budget.

Importantly, the AIB also urged the governor to fully fund Education Effort Adjustment programs for Baltimore City and Prince George’s County; approximately $125 million of which funding was not included in the governor’s proposed state budget:

In addition, the Board urges full funding for all of the Blueprint formulas and programs in fiscal 2023. We were particularly concerned to learn that the new Education Effort Adjustment program is not funded in the budget. While we understand that the question of whether the funds are mandated for fiscal 2023 has been referred to the Office of the Attorney General for advice to resolve this question, it seems clear to us that the legislative intent was that the new formula be funded in fiscal 2023 to alleviate the fiscal impact of the new Blueprint local funding requirement on several of the State’s least wealthy jurisdictions in the first year. We urge the Governor and General Assembly to provide for full funding of the Education Effort Adjustment.

The board also requested that the General Assembly and governor approve of its proposed updated timeline before the end of the 2022 legislative session:

We respectfully request that the Governor and General Assembly provide a response to this proposal before the end of the legislative session. LEAs and other entities are anxious for certainty about when they must submit their Blueprint implementation plans. The Public School Superintendents’ Association of Maryland (PSSAM) and Maryland Association of Boards of Education (MABE) have indicated that they are pleased with the new proposed timeline. The timeline is also in alignment with MSDE’s proposal for LEA implementation plans. There may be other statutory dates that need to be revised as a result of the new timeline. That will be part of the AIB’s Comprehensive Plan development process. The AIB intends to formally propose any additional adjustments to statutory dates and timelines in the AIB’s November 2022 annual report.

Just last week, the AIB briefed the House Ways and Means and Appropriations Committees on its work and ongoing challenges.

Read the full February 16 letter to the governor.

Prior Conduit Street coverage on the AIB: