Counties Support Expanded School Vision Services, Request Clarifying Amendments

On March 1, 2023, Associate Policy Director Brianna January testified before the Senate Education, Energy, and the Environment Committee in support of HB 1054 – School Health and Vision Services – Screenings and Eye Examinations with amendments.

This bill brings together the primary contact employees for school-based health centers in both the State Department of Education and Department of Health to administer the Vision for Maryland Program in local jurisdictions. From establishing a more robust network of school health centers across the State, to requiring public school systems to give students who fail screenings full vision exams and glasses if prescribed, the Program is designed to ensure all students have the healthy vision needed for success. Counties support this worthy goal, but urge legislators to consider an amendment to study the long-term viability and expenses of a statewide program, and another clarifying that the Vision for Maryland Program will support the operation and fiscal needs of existing vision screening requirements in public schools.

From the MACo Testimony:

Counties and local education agencies understand the critical importance of healthy vision in the success of our students. Counties have been engaged on various iterations of this bill for a long time and welcome further collaboration on it. HB 1054 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.

The Senate Education, Energy, and the Environment Committee was due to consider the bills cross-file, SB 573, on February 24, but the Committee canceled this initial hearing.

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