County Leaders to Focus on School Funding at #MACoCon Roundtable Discussions

The next round of school funding debates is “on the table” for a roundtable discussion at this year’s annual MACo Winter Conference. Attend this session to hear updates and provide input on potential recommendations being considered by the Maryland Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education.

The Next Round of School Funding Debates

Description: Join MACo’s representatives from the Commission on Innovation and Excellence Education to hear an update on the latest round of school funding debates in Maryland. The Commission, charged with reviewing and assessing current education financing formulas and accountability measures, is set to make its final recommendations later this month. This roundtable discussion will provide elected officials with insight into any potential recommendations, which are likely to affect all of Maryland’s twenty-four jurisdictions.

Speakers:

  • The Honorable Craig Rice, County Council Member, Montgomery County
  • The Honorable William Valentine, County Commissioner, Allegany County

Moderator: Michael Sanderson, Executive Director, Maryland Association of Counties

Date/Time: Wednesday, December 6, 2017; Noon – 1:00 pm

The MACo Winter Conference will be held December 6-8, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Hotel in Cambridge, Maryland. This year the conference’s theme is “The Power of Partnership.”

Learn more about MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference:

Volunteer Fire & Rescue Services: A Collaborative Approach At #MACoCon

All of Maryland’s twenty-four jurisdictions depend on some level of volunteers for the delivery of fire and rescue service. The evolution of volunteer fire companies presents both challenges and opportunities for county governments.  At this year’s annual MACo Winter Conference, learn how Maryland counties are collaborating with volunteer fire companies to protect lives, property, and the environment.

Together We Respond: A Collaborative Approach to Volunteer Fire & Rescue Services

Description: All of Maryland’s twenty-four jurisdictions depend on some level of volunteers for the delivery of fire and rescue service. As volunteer fire companies continue to evolve, it is critical for local governments to strengthen their relationships with local volunteer firefighters. This session will provide an overview of the challenges and best practices related to the volunteer fire service in Maryland. Speakers will discuss challenges in oversight and authority, recruiting and retaining volunteers, and funding for both volunteer companies and county governments.

Speakers:

  • Richard Devore, Director of Emergency Services, Allegany County
  • Tom Owens, EFO, Director/Chief, Division of Frederick County Fire & Rescue Services
  • Michael Faust, Second Vice President, Maryland State Fireman’s Association
  • Clarence “Chip” Jewell, Director/Deputy Chief, Frederick County Division of Volunteer Fire & Rescue Services

Date/Time: Thursday, December 7, 2017; 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm

The MACo Winter Conference will be held December 6-8, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Hotel in Cambridge, Maryland. This year the conference’s theme is “The Power of Partnership.”

Learn more about MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference:

Finance Committee Holds Briefing On Controversial Collective Bargaining Bill

A panel of representing several Maryland community colleges voiced their objections over proposed legislation that would mandate a one-size-fits-all form of collective bargaining during a briefing held by the Senate Finance Committee. The briefing focused on failed legislation (SB 652/HB 871) from the 2017 General Assembly Session.

At the briefing, MACo Policy Associate Kevin Kinnally explained that the move to collective bargaining outlined in this bill could create potentially unsustainable costs for counties, who provide substantial funding for community colleges throughout Maryland – especially since the legislation does not envision any added State support. Bernie Sadusky, Executive Director, Maryland Association of Community Colleges (MACC) told the Committee that the State has not been living up to its funding obligations, and that the added costs of collective bargaining would fall on counties and/or students, in the form of higher tuition rates.

State Senator Stephen Hershey expressed frustration with the proposal, telling fellow Committee Members that his constituent counties would be unable to afford the added costs resulting from mandated collective bargaining. Senator Hershey also addressed the lack of State funding for community colleges, he asked:

How can we pass a bill when we have no idea how to pay for it?

MACo opposed the 2017 legislation.

Representatives from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Maryland State Education Association (MSEA), American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Maryland/DC American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL–CIO), and Communication Workers of America (CWA) testified in support of the legislation.

Useful Links

HB 871/SB 652 of 2017

Previous Conduit Street Coverage

School Bus Stop Arm Violations Down From Last Year

A new Maryland Department of Education-sponsored survey shows that Maryland motorists are paying more attention to school bus stop arms.

According to a press release:

Stop arms swing out from a bus and lights flash whenever it is making an on-roadway student pick-up. A total of 3,384 violations of school bus stop arms were recorded on a single day last spring. That represents nearly a 1,000 violation decrease compared to the number recorded in 2016 and well below the 7,011 recorded when the survey began in 2011.

Governor Larry Hogan issued a proclamation declaring School Bus Safety week from October 16-20. The new survey results are being released as that observance is about to begin.

MSDE coordinated the survey in April along with school transportation directors in all 24 school systems. It is considered a snapshot of illegal activity on the roads. Eighty percent of Maryland school bus drivers took part in the survey.

School systems, bus drivers, and law enforcement have been raising awareness about stop arm violations for the past seven years.

Large systems with more buses and bus routes noted the most violators. Baltimore County tallied the most – 767, followed closely by 661 witnessed by Montgomery County school bus drivers. Both systems found significant decreases in comparison to last year.

The MSDE survey this past spring was undertaken at the behest of a number of members of the Maryland General Assembly, which has been monitoring school bus safety. The National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services is coordinating surveys of this type in all 50 States.

Read the full press release for more information.

Conduit Street Podcast, Episode #3 – Education Funding In Maryland

The first major review of education funding in more than ten years is nearing completion. The 2016 Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education was created by legislation introduced in the General Assembly. The Commission membership parallels that of the earlier Thornton Commission.

Many of the Thornton Commission’s recommendations were incorporated into the Bridge to Excellence in Public Schools Act of 2002, a plan intended to increase statewide education funding by $1.1 billion over five years.

One element of the Bridge to Excellence Act was a second review of the State’s education funding. The Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education is that second review.

On the latest episode of the Conduit Street Podcast, Kevin Kinnally and Michael Sanderson discuss education funding in Maryland.

MACo has made the podcast is available through iTunes by searching Conduit Street Podcast. You can also listen on our Conduit Street blog with a recap and link to the podcast.

Listen here:

Kirwan Commission Stays True To Form

The Maryland Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education held its most recent meeting today in Annapolis. Known as the Kirwan Commission because it is chaired by former University System Chancellor Brit Kirwan, the Commission is charged with reviewing and assessing current education financing formulas and accountability measures.

It was widely anticipated that today’s meeting would focus on education funding, especially because some Commissioners recently expressed concerns over how little time has been spent analyzing proposed funding changes. Instead, staying true to form, the Commission spent the day listening to testimony on broad policy initiatives.

Robert Slavin, Director, Center for Research and Reform in Education, Johns Hopkins University, testified on the importance of intensive, individual programs, such as one-on-one tutoring, for students struggling to achieve proficiency standards. While the Commission seemed to agree on a philosophical level, some Commissioners said the approach was cost prohibitive.

Career and technical education (CTE) continued to be a hot topic of discussion. Commissioners agreed that Maryland’s CTE standard is less rigorous than the standard in top performing systems.

In addition to providing more rigorous CTE programs, the Commission recommends that Maryland implement a communication plan to dispel the notion that CTE programs are only meant for students who do not excel in traditional academic subjects. This communication plan will also inform students and parents that enrolling in a CTE program in no way precludes the ability to attend college.

Montgomery County Councilmember Craig Rice, representing MACo on the Commission, praised efforts to expand CTE programs in Maryland. According to Councilmember Rice:

CTE programs have been very successful in counties, and with a small state investment, these programs can continue to grow. Expanding CTE should rise to the top of our recommendations. A lot of the the recommendations we’re talking about are very expensive, this one isn’t. It’s a no brainer.

Delegate Maggie McIntosh, representing the Maryland House of Delegates on the Commission, expressed frustration with the lack of input from the business community on how to best expand CTE programs, she stated:

The business community worked side by side with the Thornton Commission, but now no one is here on behalf of the business community. We need a renewed dialouge with the business community.

The Commission also heard panel testimony from the Maryland Association of Boards of Education (MABE), the Public School Superintendents’ Association of Maryland (PSSAM), and the Maryland State Education Association (MSEA), among others.

MABE’s presentation included an emphasis on the importance of local boards of education having authority over local education spending. MSEA outlined their top three priorities:

  1. Increased salaries for teachers.
  2. Increased staffing for schools.
  3. Addressing poverty

The Commission’s next meeting will focus on the analysis from Augenblick, Palaich & Associates (APA) and the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE). Dr. Kirwan has asked representatives from APA and NCEE to attend the meeting to discuss the methodology for costing out their proposed recommendations.

The 2016 Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education was created by legislation introduced in the General Assembly. The Commission membership parallels that of the earlier Thornton Commission. MACo is entitled to two representatives on the Commission, under the legislation.

Montgomery County Councilmember Craig Rice, MACo’s Education Subcommittee Chair, and Allegany County Commissioner Bill Valentine, MACo’s Education Subcommittee Vice Chair, represent MACo on the Commission.

The Commission’s next meeting will be held on Wednesday, October 25, 2017; 9:30 am-5:00 pm, at 120 House Office Building (House Appropriations Committee Room), 6 Bladen Street, Annapolis, Maryland.

Click here to view today’s meeting materials.

For more information, contact Kevin Kinnally at MACo.

Montgomery Passes Legislation On Short-Term Rentals

Legislation Addresses Short-Term Rental Services Like Airbnb and HomeAway

The Montgomery County Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to enact two legislative proposals that address the legal and regulatory status of short-term rentals in the County. The two measures, Zoning Text Amendment 17-03 and Bill 2-16, represent Council Vice President Riemer’s and the Montgomery County Planning Board’s recommendations to balance the substantial economic potential for County residents of short-term residential services like Airbnb with concerns about regulating these services.

According to a press release:

ZTA 17-03 makes bed and breakfasts limited uses in most residential and mixed-use zones. It limits the total number of adult overnight guests in a short-term rental to six, limits the total number of adult overnight guests per bedroom to two, and requires one off-street parking space for each rental contract. These measures put in place a regulatory framework that did not exist before, addressing concerns about the potential for residential housing to be used exclusively as a short-term rental service.

ZTA 17-03 was approved with two revisions: (1) The dwelling unit used as a short-term rental must be the property owner’s or owner-authorized resident’s primary residence, which was an amendment recommended by the PHED Committee and (2) If the property owner or owner-authorized resident is not present in the residence, the property can be used as a short-term residential rental for a maximum of 120 days in a calendar year, which was an amendment recommended by Councilmember Katz.

The Council also enacted Bill 2-16, which requires that several conditions be met to receive short-term residential licensing. Bill 2-16 was introduced by Council Vice President Riemer and cosponsored by Councilmember Rice.

“By bringing all the stakeholders together, we were able to find a balance that works for us here in Montgomery County,” said Council Vice President Riemer. “This legislation will allow residents and visitors to get the value of home-sharing services, while preventing abuse and stopping investors from creating de facto hotels in residential neighborhoods and taking valuable housing stock off the market.”

Useful Links

Montgomery County Council Bill 2-16

Montgomery County Council Zoning Text Amendment 17-03

Baltimore County Takes Leadership Role In Jobs Innovation Program

An innovative workforce initiative led by Baltimore County is drawing attention across the country. New data from a five-year program demonstrates that low-skilled job seekers can improve their employment potential and earnings through dynamic programs that go beyond the normal technical training.

According to a press release:

Accelerating Connections to Employment (ACE) incorporated employability training, financial literacy and computer literacy with occupational certification training to improve the marketability of job seekers.

ACE program participants included individuals with limited English proficiency and job seekers with low reading, writing and math skills.

“The ACE jobs innovation program has changed lives for job seekers who need a little extra support as they prepare for a new career. Baltimore County is proud to have lead the national team that clearly delivered results in getting people back to work in family-supporting jobs,” said Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.

Baltimore County led the multi-state ACE collaboration, funded through a $11.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor Workforce Innovation Fund.

In Baltimore County, the Department of Economic and Workforce Development delivered the local program in partnership with the Community College of Baltimore County.

An independent evaluation firm concluded that after graduating from the program, ACE participants worked more hours in a week, earned higher wages, and were more likely to achieve occupational credentials than those not participating in the program.

ACE served 1,258 low-skilled individuals in nine sites across four states: Maryland, Connecticut, Georgia and Texas. The individuals who received ACE services were randomly selected from a group of potential participants, ensuring that results were due to the impact of ACE services.

Baltimore County’s Department of Economic and Workforce Development administered the five-year initiative in five Maryland jurisdictions [Anne Arundel, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Upper Shore] and cities in three other states.

Read the full press release for more information.

Howard County Commission For Women Seeking New Candidates

Howard County is seeking applicants who are interested in serving on the Commission for Women. Two of the three new Board members will serve the remainder of five-year terms, both set to expire November 3, 2018.

According to a press release:

Established in 1980, the Commission is comprised of twelve members, including one student, and helps promote the economic, social and political equality of women in Howard County. The Commission publicizes services and activities of interest to women, promotes a positive image of women and recognizes their accomplishments, encourages the expansion of educational and employment opportunities for women, and sponsors workshops and seminars on issues specific to women.

To be eligible for consideration, candidates must be a Howard County resident, 18 years of age or older, have an interest in women’s equality and be able to attend the Commission’s meetings. The meetings are held the second Tuesday of each month from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. in the Gateway Building, 6751 Columbia Gateway Drive in Columbia.

Applicants should send a resume and a brief letter explaining why they want to serve on the Commission to: Howard County Government, Office of the County Executive, Attn: David Lee, 3430 Court House Drive, Ellicott City, MD 21043. The names of eligible applicants will be submitted to the County Executive for approval and then to the County Council for confirmation. The deadline to apply is Friday, November 10.

For more information about the Commission for Women, contact the Department of Community Resource and Services at 410.313.6400 or visit the Commission online.

Read the full press release for more information.

Queen Anne’s Making Progress On SKI Sewer Project

Failing septic systems can cause hydraulic fractures and water contamination. In order to address this issue on South Kent Island (SKI) in Queen Anne’s County, sewer lines are being extended to replace aging septic systems. The $34 million project to connect 1,518 existing homes and eight commercial properties to Queen Anne’s County’s public sewer system. The project will be implemented in four phases over a 10-year period.

The County’s initiative to provide public sewer will overcome the site limitations of the region by segregating the sewage effluent from the high groundwater. The plan will also provide superior treatment of the effluent at the existing Kent Narrows / Stevensville / Grasonville (KNSG) wastewater treatment plant by eliminating pathogens as well as reducing nitrogen loads.

The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) estimates that 30,400 pounds per year of nitrogen are currently being discharged into the Chesapeake Bay from the SKI service area. After connection to the KN/S/G wastewater treatment, MDE estimates that 13,100 pounds per year of nitrogen will be discharged from the SKI service area. This is a reduction of 17,300 pounds per year of nitrogen, which far exceeds the nitrogen reduction from alternative on-site sewage disposal systems. This reduction in nitrogen loads will also help the County reach about 33 percent of its septic system goal for the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan.

Estimated project costs were reduced significantly through the use of the septic tank effluent pumping (STEP) system that limits transmission of effluent to greywater. This technology eliminated the need for intermediate pumping stations and minimized sources for inflow and infiltration.

The Queen Anne’s County Department of Public Works on Tuesday released a September progress report.

According to the report:

STEP
Contractor installed 19 tanks for the month. That brings the total tanks installed, as of 9-30-17, to 142. That equals about 23% of the contract amount paid to date with 21% of the contract time used. The contractor will be installing tanks on Utah next week. The contractor has indicated that they will be mobilizing an additional crew to start installing tanks. They will also be working on installing electrical disconnects on some of the sites that already have tanks installed. They will be contacting the homeowners of those sites before working on the outside electrical meters. County staff has received 588 easements to date. This is about 76% of all easements required.

Community
Contractor installed about 1500 lf of pipe by the open cut method this month. They have also installed 10 clean-outs for the month and connected several drill shots to open-cut pipes. This equates to about 67% of the contract paid out with 41% of the contract time used. Contractor will finish installing pipe in phase “C” and move to phase “B” to finish connection there.

Transmission
Contractor installed about 1050 lf of pipe by the open cut method this month. That makes about 76% of the contract paid out with 41% of the contract time used. This pipe is filling in some areas that were skipped over due to the extremely wet conditions at the time they were first there. It is also connecting some drill shots together. Contractor will continue filling in these gaps heading south along RT 8 from Baltimore.

Useful Links

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: BPW Approves Long-Standing Kent Island Sewer Project

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Tackling Complex Public Works Projects at #MACoCon