Counties Send State Leaders Set of Concerns, Suggestions to Make the Blueprint Work

Counties, committed to making the Blueprint work, express concerns and offer suggestions in a letter to Governor Moore and General Assembly leadership.

County governments are vital partners in implementing Maryland’s landmark education reform law, The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future (“The Blueprint”). As funders and local leaders, counties are uniquely positioned to help guide implementation and shape Maryland’s public education system. As such, they have experienced some universal challenges in the first few years of educational reform.

Ahead of the 2024 legislative session, county leaders and the Maryland Association of Counties (MACo) sent a letter to Governor Wes Moore, Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson, and House Speaker Adrienne Jones outlining ongoing concerns with implementation and offering a series of suggestions to improve the historical law and make the Blueprint work for all Marylanders.

From the county letter:

Counties want to be clear about their intentions and the situation in which they find themselves. County concerns should not be misconstrued to suggest they want to relitigate any of the landmark law’s objectives or values. Instead, the requests outlined in this letter better position county governments to effectively execute those very intents, objectives, and values in ways that best suit each jurisdiction’s diverse abilities and strengths.

In many ways, the Blueprint applies a one-size-fits-all approach to education investment and implementation that does not account for our state’s diverse local government capacities, processes, and abilities. As we move deeper into implementation, the diverse systems, constraints, and structures counties must work within become more apparent, especially financially.

The collective County Administrations continue to work extensively on evaluating and planning for future costs relating to the Blueprint. The local levels of funding for education in each respective jurisdiction have reached record levels in recent years. However, this record county funding, combined with greater funding requirements mandated by the law, will limit counties’ ability to fund competing governmental needs at basic operational levels. This can potentially threaten Blueprint implementation and the funding and stability of critical local government services, like public safety and emergency management, public health and social services, transportation infrastructure, libraries, and community colleges. To be clear, no county government wants to choose between funding education or safety, human services, and infrastructure.

The letter outlines several areas of concern and accompanying suggestions for improvement, including:

  • Education Funding Clarity and Accountability (which complements MACo’s 2024 transparency in education spending legislative initiative);
  • Pre-Kindergarten Expansion; and
  • Educator Hiring and Retention.

Implementing the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform Maryland into a world-class model for education. Counties request the State’s support and help to advance these points and to make the Blueprint work for all stakeholders with equity, fidelity, and transparency.

Read the full letter.

At the MACo Winter Conference general session, “Education Reform: The Blueprint for the Blueprint,” county and state leaders in education will examine Blueprint implementation, challenges that remain, and where Maryland is landing as it tries to reach the landmark law’s goals for public education. Speakers include representatives of key partnerships, county officials working closely “on the ground” to implement the education reform law and other leaders.

Learn more about MACo’s Winter Conference: