Howard Establishes Workgroup to Evaluate Education Budget

Howard County will have a first-of-its-kind multi-agency workgroup on Blueprint Resources Planning

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball issued an executive order on May 17 establishing one of Maryland’s first workgroups to analyze and respond to the multitude of funding requirements under the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future (“The Blueprint”). The Howard County Blueprint Resources Planning Workgroup will strategize on statutory funding requirements, collaborate on State aid opportunities, and recommend a funding and policy action plan to respond to Blueprint mandates.

In a press release, County Executive Ball commented:

We are fully committed to implementing the Blueprint for Maryland’s future to enhance the excellence of our public education system. While doing so, we must establish responsible and transparent fiscal priorities. This workgroup will help dismantle silos, improve collaboration among educational entities, and establish a coordinated strategy to successfully achieve the goals set forth in the Blueprint, while respecting the use of taxpayer dollars.

The  Blueprint Resources Planning Workgroup will be a 12-member, multi-agency workgroup that will include representatives from

  • Howard County Government,
  • Howard Community College,
  • the Howard County Library System,
  • the Howard County Board of Education,
  • the Howard County Council, and
  • the Howard County State Delegation.

The Blueprint Resources Planning Workgroup has five primary duties and responsibilities:

  • Review the statutory funding requirements of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future in each pillar area and identify critical deadlines to meet the key priorities of the plan.
  • Establish a cost analysis of each pillar for each of the next seven fiscal years beginning in FY2025.
  • Continue to work with the Maryland State Department of Education and the Maryland Department of Legislative Services to forecast future state aid distributions for the thirteen major aid categories as defined in the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future.
  • Work with the Howard County Office of Budget and the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) Budget Office to forecast sustainable local funding estimates for education for the next seven fiscal years beginning in FY2025.
  • Recommend a funding plan and policy actions that may be needed at the local and state level to implement the Blueprint within the local and state budget estimates presented to the Workgroup.

The Blueprint Resources Planning Workgroup will provide a written report to the County Executive, County Council and Board of Education on February 1, 2024.

The Blueprint and funding Maryland’s future

The workgroup’s establishment comes as counties around the state grapple with the substantial funding demands of the Blueprint while trying to responsibly balance taxpayer funds and fully resource the many other responsibilities of county governments. Ball noted when discussing the new workgroup that in the current fiscal year, the HCPSS budget exceeded $1 billion for the first time and is expected to reach $1.1 billion in the next fiscal year.

At the same time, county governments are seeking greater transparency and accountability in school funding, looking to the long-term requirements of the Blueprint. Howard County Council Chair Christiana Rigby touched on how the County’s new workgroup will help plan for the future:

As we strive to implement the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, it is essential that our government partners collaborate to identify a long-term funding plan. The Blueprint Resources Planning Workgroup’s efforts will ensure we develop a responsible plan for our education budget.

Read the full press release from Howard County.