AIB Approves Release of Blueprint Funding for all 24 Jurisdictions

The AIB has approved releasing state funding earmarked for Blueprint implementation to the state’s 24 school systems.

small plants sprouting from stacks of coinsAt the April 13 meeting of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Accountability and Implementation Board (AIB), all 24 Maryland counties were approved to receive state funding earmarked to implement to implement the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future (“The Blueprint”). The AIB approved releasing the funding having found that that all 24 jurisdictions have met the Board’s minimum requirements for their local implementation plans.

Local Education Agencies (LEAs) were required by law to submit a local Blueprint Implementation Plan by midnight on March 15, 2023, outlining how it intends to implement the major education reforms set by the The Blueprint. As LEAs pre​pared their draft plans, many held public information sessions, which are accessible online.

After reviewing all plans, the AIB has found that all 24 LEAs have met the requirements needed to implement and reach the goals of The Blueprint law. In a memo, the AIB explained its responsibility to approve the local plans and subsequent release of state funds:

Under the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future law, beginning in fiscal 2023, 25% of the annual increase in Blueprint funds received by each LEA is automatically withheld until AIB approves their plan (Education Article Section 5-405(c)(1)). For fiscal 2023, HB 1450 of 2022 amended the law to base the release of fiscal 2023 funds on whether AIB determines that LEAs have met the minimum guidelines as set by the AIB, which must include a maximum page limit. These minimum guidelines were specified in the Blueprint Initial Comprehensive Implementation Plan adopted by the AIB in December 2022.

AIB staff has verified that each LEA Blueprint Implementation Plan now meets the minimum guidelines and recommends that the AIB approve the release of 25% of the increase in Blueprint funds in fiscal 2023 for each LEA. Upon approval of this recommendation, MSDE and the Comptroller’s Office will be
notified that the funds should be released. In discussions with AIB, MSDE adopted a procedure to withhold fiscal 2023 funds from the final (May 2023) bi-monthly payment. With the AIB’s approval, then, no funds will be withheld from any LEA in fiscal 2023. MSDE and AIB have agreed that a similar process will be utilized for fiscal 2024 funds, with funds withheld from the final payment in May 2024 if an LEA’s 2023 plan is not approved by the AIB. (Approval of 2024 plans submitted in March 2024 will determine the release of fiscal 2025 Blueprint funds.)

Should an LEA not have met requirements, up to 25% of the earmarked Blueprint funding could have been withheld from the jurisdiction, at the suggestion of the AIB.

Maryland’s Blueprint Fund

Also notable during the April 13 meeting was a discussion on the health and sustainability of the state’s Blueprint Fund. William “Brit” Kirwan, chancellor emeritus of the University System of Maryland and vice chair of the AIB, asked how long the built-up balance in the Blueprint Fund would last the state. AIB Executive Director Rachel Hise responded that if current financial projections are correct, the Blueprint Fund would take the state into fiscal year 2027.

Next steps

AIB staff and the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) will now review each local implementation plan for specific aspects of the Blueprint’s five pillars and will offer recommendations to the AIB. Each LEA’s local plan will be approved “on a rolling basis” beginning at the AIB’s next scheduled meeting on May 11.

LEAs are also obligated to meet second deadline in March 2024 to submit Blueprint plans for incorporating the four priorities through the 2026-27 school year. A third and final local implementation plan is due in 2027, for school years from 2027-28 through 2031-32.

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