Counties Welcome Further Collaboration to Address Student Vision Health

On March 8, 2022, Associate Policy Director Brianna January testified before the House Ways and Means Committee in support of HB 1233 – Public Schools – Health and Vision Services – Required Screenings and Eye Examinations with amendments. This bill alters the requirements for vision screenings for students in public schools; requiring a county board of education to ensure that certain students receive an eye examination and eyeglasses under certain circumstances and in coordination with certain programs, if necessary; requiring a county board or county health department to provide students with certain information when the student registers for school; establishing the Pediatric Vision Program; establishing the Vision for Maryland Program to expand vision support services; etc.

From the MACo testimony

Counties and local education agencies understand the critical importance of healthy vision in the success of our students, and counties have been engaged on various iterations of this bill for a long time and welcome further collaboration on it.

That said, HB 1233 would benefit from amendments to address some county concerns, including uncertainty on the match between state resources and actual costs to implement the abundant goals of the bill. Amendments that could address some of these concerns include the following:

  • Shifting the Vision for Maryland Program and accompanying $2 million in state funding to a statewide pilot program with a required study to see if it the programming and its funding are sufficient to address statewide need, with special emphasis on estimating the impact on the local school systems and potential costs of providing eye exams and glasses. Additionally, the study amendments should also include evaluating options for how the State can leverage its economy of scale to buy glasses and other vision accessories at potentially reduced cost.
  • Clarifying that the Vision for Maryland Program and accompanying $2 million in state funding is supporting operational and fiscal needs of the existing (and under HB 1233, expanded) vision screening requirements for all public school students in the state.

More on MACo’s Advocacy:

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2022 legislative session on MACo’s Legislative Tracking Database.
Learn more about MACo’s 2022 Legislative Initiatives.
Read more General Assembly News on MACo’s Conduit Street blog.

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