What’s Your County’s School Funding Requirement? Watch This Bill.

In the final weeks of the 2022 General Assembly session, legislators appears ready to clarify and alter the “Maintenance of Effort” law for this year – the Senate has now incorporated these changes into amendments onto another related bill.

HB 1450 was introduced as a “nuts and bolts” bill making technical and clarifying adjustments to timetables under the broad Kirwan Blueprint plan – largely recognizing the delays in populating the Accountability and Implementation Board, and altering deadlines and timetables accordingly. That bill passed the House of Delegates, and was heard in the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee on Tuesday, March 29.

The Senate, however, has added amendments to the bill – adding multiple provisions that were initially proposed in SB 640, legislation to mandate each county “flat fund” its schools this year, even if a drop in population might have otherwise allowed a funding reduction. MACo had offered an amendment to that bill, urging that any new one-time mandated funding (affecting roughly half the counties) be excluded from the subsequent year’s “base” for purposes of calculating each county’s FY24 funding requirement.

Analysis of this issue, generally, appeared in the original fiscal note for SB 640.

Draft calculations of each county’s school funding requirement for FY23, prepared by legislative staff

The Senate amendments also seek to remedy some calculation errors made by the State Department of Education, and effectively writes the dollar amounts for each county’s funding requirements into law (rather than merely rely on formulas, as is ordinarily the case). For more on these calculation errors, se previous Conduit Street coverage:  Analysts: Department Missed County MOE Calculations, Expect Revisions

The amendments to HB 1450 were passed on the Senate floor this morning (March 30), and are available online. The amended version of HB 1450 will follow through on all the portions of this debate:

  • Counties whose share of Kirwan programs is greater than their calculation of “Maintenance of Effort” local contributions will be unaffected
  • Counties with enrollment declines (Sept 2021 count, versus Sept 2019 count) who would have otherwise been able to reduce overall funding would be required to at least fun the same total dollars as in FY22
  • Counties affected by this mandate would have that required extra funding backed out of their per-pupil funding base when next year’s funding requirement is calculated, which avoids the one-year patch for enrollment drops to become a permanently mandated amount

The bill’s fiscal note will, eventually, be updated to clearly reflect each county’s new funding obligation. Updates typically are made once substantive changes are formally adopted.

The Senate must pass the bill on Third Reader later this week, and send it back to the House of Delegates for its concurrence.

A draft worksheet, prepared by the Department of Legislative Services staff, was prepared for their discussion on the amendments: B&T county MOE handout

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties