Howard County Announces Trade Apprenticeship Program

Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman today announced plans for an apprenticeship program, starting in 2019, to fill electrical, plumbing and HVAC-R jobs in Howard County. Howard County is among a handful of jurisdictions that recently earned approval from the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (DLLR) to use registered apprenticeships to attract skilled workers in needed employment areas.

According to a press release:

“Howard County, among other jurisdictions, is losing some of its best tradespeople in the workforce to attrition and retirement,” said Kittleman.  “Before those skills and expertise are gone, we hope to help transfer those abilities to a new generation of electricians, plumbers and HVAC-R technicians. These are solid career paths that will always be needed in the government sector.”

DLLR Secretary Kelly M. Schulz shared that, “Maryland’s local governments are discovering what many of our businesses have known for decades. Registered apprenticeship is a great way to build your workforce, whether you are in the private or public sector.”

The three apprenticeships being developed in Howard County for July of 2019 are full-time, paid positions with benefits. Candidates in the 4-year program also will attend trade school for free with 144 classroom hours per year, as well as complete 2,000 on-the-job training hours, in exchange for a commitment to remain employed with the county for at least two years after the program.

“It is increasingly difficult to compete with the private sector for skilled tradespeople and the technology and energy-efficiency standards are constantly evolving and improving,” said Jim Irvin, Director of the Department of Public Works. “We are looking to develop our own talent to help us keep county facilities operating safely and effectively for our residents, visitors and co-workers.”

Apprentices will mainly work for the Bureaus of Facilities, Utilities and Environmental Services within the Department of Public Works to maintain more than 2.5 million square feet of county government facilities among 172 buildings. Assignments will span residential maintenance at county-owned properties, commercial operations at county office buildings and industrial settings like wastewater treatment facilities and the landfill. The candidates will be overseen and trained by master tradespeople associated with AFSCME 3085, the local Howard County trade union for public employees of the Department of Public Works.

The positions are included in the Fiscal Year 2019 budget and are expected to be filled in July of 2019.  Details of the policies and procedures for the program are expected to be finalized prior to the end of 2018.

Read the full press release for more information.

Dr. Kirwan Discusses His Commission’s Work on WYPR

Dr. William “Brit” Kirwan, Chair of the [Kirwan] Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, yesterday joined WYPR’s On the Record to discuss the future of Maryland’s public education system.

The Commission is charged with reviewing and assessing current education financing formulas and accountability measures. The Commission was originally set to complete its work in time for the 2018 session of the General Assembly, but last October asked for an extension when it became clear the deadline was not realistic. Prior to breaking for the 2018 legislative session, the Commission released a preliminary report detailing its preliminary recommendations.

When asked about the delay, Dr. Kirwan explained that the initial timeline was simply impractical. “I don’t think anybody fully appreciates the magnitude of this challenge. We are being asked to invent and develop a funding formula for an entirely new system of education, that will be at the level of the best-performing systems in the world. We’re supposed to do that in six months? Give me a break!”

Dr. Kirwan expects the Commission to release its final recommendations in time for the 2019 session of the Maryland General Assembly.

In the meantime, the Commission’s four working groups will continue working to develop a consensus on the design, implementation plan, and cost for each of the preliminary recommendations. Once the working groups have completed their work, they will present their recommendations and cost estimates to the full Commission. The chair will work with staff and consultants to develop a draft cost estimate based on the recommendations of the working groups (as considered by the full Commission) for the full Commission’s consideration.

Dr. Kirwan cautioned that simply spending more money on Maryland’s public education system is unlikely to improve student outcomes. “It’s not just how much you spend, it’s what you spend it on. That is part and parcel to the recommendations we’re making,” Kirwan said.

Greater spending must come with greater accountability, according to Chair Kirwan. “There is inadequate accountability, and that’s what we’re trying to address,” he said.

Chair Kirwan said he looks forward to working with Governor Larry Hogan and the Maryland General Assembly on legislation to implement the Commission’s recommendations. “I give Governor Hogan and the Legislature a lot of credit for appointing this commission because they recognize that Maryland’s future and the future well-being of our citizens depend upon a high-quality education, that’s the future of our economy.”

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 advocates for adequate, fair, and reasonable funding for all of Maryland’s students, and urges State policymakers to sustain a robust level of public education and school construction funding.

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WYPR Coverage

Previous Conduit Street Coverage

MACo’s Summer Conference will include a session on education funding and accountability, and how to best ensure that Maryland students receive a fair, equitable, and high-quality education. The session, “Angling for Educational Excellence: Kirwan 2.0,” is scheduled for 10:15 am – 11:15 am on Saturday, August 18, 2018.

The 2018 MACo Summer Conference will be held August 15-18 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, Maryland. This year’s theme is “Water, Water Everywhere.”

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Washington & Frederick County Youth Apprenticeship Program Gets Boost

The Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation announced that the FirstEnergy Foundation has once again offered $15,000 to Washington and Frederick County businesses to support the hiring of youth apprentices through the successful Apprenticeship Maryland Program (AMP).

According to a press release:

“We knew that youth apprenticeship would help businesses build a pipeline of talented, energetic employees,” said Maryland Labor Secretary Kelly Schulz. “What we didn’t know is the profoundly positive impact that youth apprenticeship would have on students, employers, and their communities. The FirstEnergy Foundation understands the value in the apprenticeship program and has, through their partnership, given us the ability to create opportunities and life-changing experiences for our youth.”

FirstEnergy Foundation’s donation brings their total contribution to the program to $45,000. Since 2016, five Washington County companies have utilized $22,500 in grant funds. The businesses use the funds to offset costs related to hiring and training the youth apprentice.

The AMP, founded in 2015 as a pilot in Frederick and Washington counties, is a partnership between the Maryland Department of Labor, the Maryland State Department of Education, the Department of Commerce, the county public school system, community educational and business partners, and area employers. Youth apprenticeship is open to all industries, with a priority on high-growth career tracks such as science, technology, engineering, math (STEM), and manufacturing.

Learn more about the Apprenticeship Maryland Program or contact Targeted Populations Grant Program Manager Jeffrey Smith from the Maryland Department of Labor at 410-767-2246.

The [Kirwan] Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education is considering recommendations to expand apprenticeship programs and other opportunities to participate in a career while in high school.

MACo’s Summer Conference will include a session on education funding and accountability, and how to best ensure that Maryland students receive a fair, equitable, and high-quality education. The session, “Angling for Educational Excellence: Kirwan 2.0,” is scheduled for 10:15 am – 11:15 am on Saturday, August 18, 2018.

The 2018 MACo Summer Conference will be held August 15-18 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, Maryland. This year’s theme is “Water, Water Everywhere.”

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Volkswagen Settlement will Help Replace Aging School Buses

The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has a plan to spend an additional $76 million on specific projects to reduce diesel emissions from the transportation sector – and it plans to make $12 million available for transit bus and school bus replacements.

According to MDE, $4 million dollars will be set aside to replace aging school buses, with another $8 million to replace aging transit buses.

In 2015, the federal government found Volkswagen AG liable for violations of the Clean Air Act, because from 2009 to 2016, the company sold diesel vehicles with devices installed that allowed for illegal amounts of nitrogen oxide emissions. The resulting settlement agreement with the automobile manufacturer created the Environmental Mitigation Trust Fund, which includes $2.7 billion earmarked for projects that remediate excess nitrogen oxide emissions from the air.

Maryland is eligible to receive about $75.7 million of that money – but first, it must complete and have approved a plan for how it will allocate the funds. After consulting with the Maryland Departments of Energy and Transportation, MDE released its draft plan this week outlining how it plans to spend the money.

According to MDE:

Local Governments and Communities and Environmental Justice (15.8%): Local governments and communities will be given a chance to submit project ideas for funding. Funding will be awarded on a competitive basis based on the primary goals of this spending plan. Proposals from highly affected communities (communities with heightened levels of ground-level ozone) will be weighted. A portion of the funds will be set aside specifically for transit bus and school bus replacements.

MDE will be accepting comments on the proposed Mitigation Plan until close of business on August 31, 2018. Comments can be emailed to

MDE is also already accepting proposals from counties and others for eligible mitigation projects that can potentially be incorporated into future versions of Maryland’s Mitigation Plan. Those wishing to propose a project for inclusion in the plan may complete and submit this form by close of business on December 31, 2018.

Those sending comments or proposals by mail may use this address:

Mobile Sources Control Program
Maryland Department of the Environment
1800 Washington Blvd. Ste. 705
Baltimore, MD 21230

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Conduit Street Podcast: What’s up with the Bay? SALT Suit, & Recruiting Top-Tier Teachers

On the latest episode of the Conduit Street Podcast, Kevin Kinnally and Michael Sanderson discuss how and why recent storms have sent sediment and debris pouring into the Chesapeake Bay, examine the multistate lawsuit against the federal government in response to the $10,000 limit on the federal deduction for state and local taxes (SALT), and break down the Kirwan Commission’s High-Quality Teachers and Leaders workgroup.

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

You can listen to previous episodes of the Conduit Street Podcast on our website.

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Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Kirwan Commission Considers Major Pay Increase for Teachers

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Maybe Stay Away From the Bay Today (July 31)…

Carroll Concerned Over School Bus Driver Shortage

Carroll County has a shortage of school bus drivers going into the new school year – and the blame is placed on the new sick leave law.

Mike Hardesty, director of transportation with Carroll County Public Schools, told the Carroll County Times that the next school year will probably suffer from a shortage of drivers, due to the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act.

The contractors who work with the school system have indicated that they need to hire additional substitute drivers to cover for any additional absenteeism.

Hardesty told the Times:

We know some of our major contractors with a large number of buses to man for the opening of school are working hard to make sure they have an adequate number of full-time and part-time drivers.

Maryland’s Largest Union Gets New President

Chery Bost (photo courtesy of MSEA)

Cheryl Bost is the new president of Maryland’s largest union, the Maryland State Education Association (MSEA). Bost is an elementary school teacher from Baltimore County, where she was named teacher of the year in 2003 in part for her work to create a summer camp for her disadvantaged students. She served as president of the Teachers Association of Baltimore County from 2003-2011 and MSEA vice president from 2012-2018.

According to a press release:

Bost plans to kick-off her presidency with a video message, “Room 18”, to Maryland educators and public school advocates. In the video, Bost revisits her old classroom at Mars Estates Elementary School, a low-income public school in Essex, to tell the story of how she worked with her colleagues to lead successful strategies that closed the achievement gap, reduced suspensions, and improved parental and community engagement. She stresses that this success was only possible because educators led the change instead of the state coming in and taking over the school.

Bost will build on the progress of former MSEA President Betty Weller, a Kent County science and English teacher who led the union to many successes in her six years as president including passing: the Protect Our Schools Act, legislation that prevented the privatization of low-performing public schools; the More Learning, Less Testing Act, which has eliminated more than 900 hours of unnecessary standardized testing; the Fix the Fund Act, which if approved by voters in November will increase education funding by $500 million a year; and important fixes to the failed rollout of the state’s Common Core learning standards.

Read the full press release for more information.

The Buildup to Maryland’s New School Construction Structure

The Interagency Commission on School Construction, created by law this year, will have enhanced powers with regard to the State’s capital funding for K-12 school building projects.

The 21st Century School Facilities Act of 2018 contained many provisions relating to specific elements of the State’s school construction program, and dealt with topics including energy efficiency, alternative financing, and prevailing wage laws.

It also contained language that re-ordered the State’s own structure for distributing its $300+ million annual appropriation for local K-12 construction projects. This controversial element of the legislation, which became law through a legislative override of the Governor’s veto, created a new body call the Interagency Commission on School Construction.

The Commission includes several appointees from the General Assembly and the Governor’s Office, and, much like its predecessor, the Interagency Committee on School Construction, it includes members of the Governor’s Administration including representatives of the Departments of Planning and General Services.

The Commission will have enhanced responsibility for school construction funding, as compared with the Committee that preceded it. The Interagency Commission is an independent commission that functions within the Department of Education. The Commission’s purpose is to develop and approves policies, procedures, and regulations on state school construction allocations to local jurisdictions in an independent and merit-based manner. For more information, see the legislation that created the Commission.

Here is the list of members of the Commission and upcoming meetings dates, according to the Public School Construction Program’s website,

Members – Interagency Commission on School Construction 

  • Karen Salmon, Superintendent of Schools, Chairperson
  • Robert S. McCord, Acting Secretary of Department of Planning; Member
  • Ellington Churchill, Secretary of Department of General Services; Member
  • Barbara Hoffman, Appointee of the President of the Senate
  • Gloria Lawlah, Appointee of the President of the Senate
  • VACANT, Appointee of the Speaker of the House
  • Brian Gibbons, Appointee of the Speaker of the House
  • Denise Avara, Appointee of the Governor
  • Michael Lombardo, Appointee of the Governor

The chair of the Commission will be selected jointly by the Governor, President of the Senate, and Speaker of the House of Delegates.

Meeting Information – Interagency Commission on School Construction

All IAC meetings will be held at the Maryland State Department of Education Headquarters, 200 W. Baltimore Street, Baltimore, MD 21201.

This additional information on upcoming meeting dates is provided by the Public School Construction Program:

  • Aug. 30, 2018, 9 am – noon, 7th Floor – State Board Room (Livestream)
  • Sep 12, 2018, 9 am – noon, Room TBD
  • Nov 15, 2018, 9 am – noon, Room TBD
  • Dec 11, 2018, Time TBD, Room TBD

POTUS to Sign Landmark Career and Technical Education Bill

President Donald Trump on Wednesday will sign a bipartisan overhaul the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, a $1.1 billion program that provides state grant funding for job training and related programs for high school students, many of whom may be seeking postsecondary options other than a four-year college degree.

H.R. 2353 – Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act was passed unanimously by both the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate.

The legislation supports innovative learning opportunities by promoting work-based learning and evaluating CTE providers on their ability to effectively prepare students for the workforce. State leaders are encouraged to better integrate their CTE services with other state-led programs. The bill encourages stronger engagement with employers by ensuring local business leaders are involved in the development of CTE and the performance goals set at the state and local levels, while at the same time empowering state leaders with more flexibility to direct federal resources to CTE programs that provide students with the skills necessary to fill available jobs in their state and communities.

Grant recipients will partner with local stakeholders to perform biennial reviews to help career and technical education (CTE) programs meet the needs of local communities. Furthermore, the bill increases from 10 percent to 15 percent the amount of federal funds that states can set aside to assist CTE programs in rural areas or areas with a significant number of CTE students and use federal funds to support CTE programs focused on a state’s unique education and economic needs or state-based innovation.

To increase transparency and accountability, H.R. 2353 streamlines the number of performance measures used to evaluate CTE programs and aligns these performance measures with those set by each state under the Every Student Succeeds Act. The “technical skill proficiency” indicator is replaced with a state determined indicator to help ensure taxpayer dollars are supporting CTE programs that prepare students to continue their education or start their careers.

At the postsecondary level, the bill streamlines the number of performance measures and aligns these with the performance indicators in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, and encourages states to set targeted levels of performance through an open process that includes input from local education leaders, parents, students, workforce development boards, community and business representatives, and others.

Finally, the legislation ensures a limited federal role by repealing the requirement that states must negotiate their targeted levels of performance with the Secretary of Education, and prevents the Secretary from withholding funds from a state that does not meet certain performance targets. Instead, the bill empowers state leaders to develop an improvement plan that works best for the needs and circumstances in their states. The bill also requires the federal plan for research, development, dissemination, and evaluation to be carried out by an independent entity, rather than the Secretary of Education, and requires that future demonstration projects focus on enhancing performance and student success.

As previously reported on Conduit Street, the [Kirwan] Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education is working to create an instructional system that includes a career and college ready standard set to a global standard that most students are expected to meet by the end of grade 10 and all students are expected to meet by the end of high school. The plan will incorporate CTE pathways that lead directly into aligned postsecondary technical degrees as well as industry credentials.

Useful Links

H.R.2353 – Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Kirwan Commission, Take Two

The Commission is expected to complete its work in time for the 2019 session of the General Assembly, and has recently sharpened its focus on education formulas — including the pattern and role of county funding. At this year’s MACo Summer Conference, attend this general session to learn how county governments could be affected by the Commission’s final report.

Angling for Educational Excellence: Kirwan 2.0

Description: The [Kirwan] Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education was formed in 2016 to answer two questions: Should the state revise current education funding formulas? And what major new education policies must be enacted to put Maryland public schools on par with the best in the world? The Commission released preliminary policy recommendations earlier this year, and has recently sharpened its focus on education formulas — including the pattern and role of county funding. Spending formulas, systematic accountability, and resource equity are all hot topics. How will the Kirwan Commission’s recommendations affect county governments? This session focuses on education funding and accountability, and how to best ensure that Maryland students receive a fair, equitable, and high-quality education.


  • Dr. William “Brit” Kirwan, Chair, Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education
  • The Honorable Craig Rice, Council Member, Montgomery County
  • The Honorable William Valentine, Commissioner, Allegany County

Moderator: The Honorable Maggie McIntosh, Maryland House of Delegates

Date/Time: Saturday, August 18, 2018; 10:15 am – 11:15 am

MACo’s 2018 Summer Conference will be held Aug. 15-18 at the Roland Powell Convention Center, in Ocean City, MD.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

MSDE Awards $7.5M for Maryland Meals for Achievement Program

The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) has awarded $7.55 million in State funds to 485 schools selected to participate in Maryland Meals for Achievement (MMFA), an alternative breakfast delivery program that provides students with free, in-classroom breakfast.

According to a press release:

The funds supplement the federal reimbursement that schools receive through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s School Breakfast Program. In School Year 2018-2019, 258,984 Maryland students will benefit from this program. Of the 485 schools participating, 26 schools will be participating for the first time due to an additional $650,000 provided by Governor Hogan in the Fiscal Year 2019 budget.

Schools are selected annually by MSDE based on eligibility criteria, previous participation, preferences of the school districts, and the amount of State funds available. Maryland law also requires the selection of schools to represent geographic and socioeconomic balance.

Alternative breakfast delivery models, such as the MMFA, increase students’ access to a healthful morning meal. Additionally, recent legislation allows participating middle and high schools to serve breakfast in the school building through Grab and Go kiosks while still requiring students to consume the meal in the classroom.

Click here for a list of participating schools.

Read the full press release for more information.