Frederick Council Passes Bill to Adjust School Construction Fees

The Frederick County Council yesterday approved a bill to adjust school construction fees assessed on developers whose projects fail the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO) Schools test. APFOs are used to slow or restrict growth until adequate infrastructure or public services are in place to serve the new population of residents.

According to WFMD:

These builders can either build the new school capacity and let their projects go forward, or they could stop building homes until the schools are adequate. A law enacted by the last Board of County Commissioners lets developers pay a certain amount toward school construction, and their project is allowed to continue.

This legislation adjusts the fees annually, starting in January 1st, 2019 to January 1st, 2026, without any action by the Council, and are based on the recent school construction cost data from the state, plus two-percent. The annual increase will be no more than six-percent.

Supporters of the legislation pointed to the fact that while school construction costs have steadily increased, developer fees have not been adjusted since 2014. Opponents of the bill argued that increasing developer fees will inevitably drive up housing costs.

Rising school construction costs are a concern for county government officials across Maryland, and ensuring a continued state commitment to education is a MACo Legislative Initiative for the 2019 General Assembly Session.

The 2016 Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education will recommend major shifts in the relative role of state and local funding in each of Maryland’s twenty-four jurisdictions. At the same time, the 21st Century School Facilities Commission and its legislative outcomes recommended an increased annual State contribution for capital projects, and required ongoing study of school construction project funding and priorities.

MACo advocates for a partnership approach to meeting the education and facility needs of Maryland’s students that fairly balances state responsibilities with local obligations, and seeks equitable and efficient solutions to meet current expenses and future goals.

Useful Links

Read the full article from WFMD

Conduit Street Podcast: Split the Check for School Construction? Not So Fast…

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: It’s Not Apples-to-Apples in School Construction Funding

Virus Shuts Down Anne Arundel County Public Library Computers

Anne Arundel County Public Library (AACPL) officials recently announced that its public computers were exposed to the Emotet virus, an especially deleterious program that spreads via infected email attachments. As a result, some 600 computers are expected to be offline for at least two weeks as officials work to eradicate the virus and scrub the network.

According to a press release:

On October 11, officials discovered that a database of customers who used library computers or the business services kiosk for copying, faxing printing was exposed to the virus. This database, dating back to November 2015, contains library card numbers, customer names and birthdates. No other information, including social security or credit card number, is stored on library servers or is at risk for exposure. However, customers should remain vigilant about their personal information and change any account passwords if they used AACPL computers or the library’s copying, faxing or printing business services kiosk.

“We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this attack may have caused our customers,” said AACPL CEO Hampton “Skip” Auld. “Along with many organizations, we’ve discovered vulnerabilities through this breach and are taking comprehensive steps to prevent any future incidents. The library is committed to protecting customers against the misuse of their personal information and we take security issues very seriously.”

If you believe you’ve been affected by this breach, visit the consumer page of the library’s website at www.aacpl.net/consumer for more information.

Conduit Street Podcast: Split the Check for School Construction? Not So Fast…

On the latest episode of the Conduit Street Podcast, Kevin Kinnally is joined by MACo’s Research Director, Robin Eilenberg, to discuss school construction in Maryland. For many years the State-county partnership on school construction has been strong, with the Department of Legislative Services reporting that from fiscal 2006 through 2013, the State provided $2.4 billion in new funds for school construction while Counties provided $2.1 billion for school construction.

Increases in school construction costs in recent years, however, threaten to strain that relationship and offset the balance of the shared commitment to building and renovating facilities for Maryland’s K-12 students. Eligible cost definitions and state environmental and labor mandates are at the heart of the division.

Listen here:

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.

Useful Links

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: It’s Not Apples-to-Apples in School Construction Funding

21st Century School Facilities Act

Interagency Commission on School Construction

State Cost Share Percentages

MABE Elects New President, Revises Continuing Resolutions

At the Maryland Association of Boards of Education (MABE) Annual Conference this fall, the organization elected a new president and adopting revisions to its continuing resolutions, including language on the local contribution of additional costs for high needs students (English Learners, Special Education, and Compensatory Program).

The President of MABE for the next year is C. Tolbert Rowe, member of the Caroline County Board of Education. The MABE board of directors is comprised of the officers of the association, the immediate past president, and twelve additional members. All must be current members of their local boards of education.

In his first message to members, Rowe stated,

This may seem like a lot of work, all these challenges and opportunities. But I don’t think any of us would be sitting here in this room, on this last day of a very productive and educational conference, if we did not want to do the very best for our children and by our children. I have great faith in MABE – the staff, the leadership, the Board of Directors, and every one of our members – to recognize the challenges and seize on the opportunities. I look forward to working with each of you this year.

Also at the Conference, MABE updated its continuing resolutions, which provide the foundation for the Association’s legislative and policy positions in the year ahead. Current law does not require counties to match additional state funding for high needs students. MABE adopted the following resolution suggesting that counties should be required to pay a portion of the additional costs for high needs students. MABE states,

Support for legislation to require local governments to fund their share of the additional costs for high needs students (English Learners, Special Education, and Economic Disadvantage)

As previously reported on Conduit Street, according to the Commission on Innovation & Excellence in Education, total State and local expenditures on special education equaled $1.567 billion in fiscal 2015. Of this, the State provided $272 million, or 17.3% of the total. Counties accounted for the remaining $1.296 billion, or 82.7% of the total.

For more information, read all of MABE’s updated resolutions or read the press release from their Annual Conference.

MSDE Awards $16M for Out-Of-School Time Programs

Grants Awarded through Federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program

A total of 53 programs in 12 counties were recently awarded $16.4 million in grants by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) through the federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) grant program.

Out-of-school time (OST) programs are programs that occur before or after school, in the summer, on the weekends, or during other times when school is not in session.
According to MSDE:

The 21st CCLC programs occur before school, after school, during the summer, and on Saturdays. Out-of-school time programs are designed to keep students safe, help working families and improve academic achievement.

The purpose of the 21st CCLC program is to create community learning centers that provide students with academic enrichment opportunities as well as additional services designed to complement their regular academic program. The grant provides opportunities for academic enrichment which includes providing instructional services to help students, particularly students who attend low-performing schools, meet State and local student academic achievement standards in core academic subjects, such as language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies.

The grant targets students and families of students who attend Title I School-wide programs or schools that serve a high percentage (at least 40 percent) of students from low income families. The grant includes partnerships of eligible entities consisting of local school systems and/or community-based organizations or other public or private entities.

MSDE received 97 applications for the 21st CCLC program. Grants were awarded on a competitive basis in the following jurisdictions:

  • Anne Arundel County
  • Baltimore City
  • Dorchester County
  • Frederick County
  • Howard County
  • Montgomery County
  • Prince George’s County
  • Queen Anne’s County
  • Somerset County
  • Washington County
  • Wicomico County
  • Worcester County

Read the full press release for more information.

Feds Announce Grants to Strengthen School Safety

The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) today announced awarded $3.6 million in federal grants designed to strengthen school safety across Maryland.

According to an MSDE press release:

A five-year, $2.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education will allow Maryland to implement the Maryland School Emergency Preparedness Program, a partnership between MSDE, local school systems, the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and local emergency managers. In addition, a three-year, $1 million grant from the US Department of Justice, will allow MSDE to implement a new violence prevention model in schools across the State.

Dr. Karen Salmon, State Superintendent of Schools, said the grants will allow MSDE to bolster the security of every classroom in Maryland.

“Learning simply cannot take place in a school where students and teachers don’t feel safe,” Dr. Salmon said. “These funds will help Maryland update and modernize emergency operations plans in schools throughout the State, and utilize state-of-the-art techniques to better identify potential threats to student safety.”

The grants are part of an effort to make schools more secure by providing resources for new technology, expanding school safety training, educating faculty and staff, and supporting existing crisis intervention teams.

The funding, authorized by the STOP School Violence Act, is part of more than $70 million in school safety grants that are being dispersed to communities across the United States.

Read the full press release for more information.

State Launches “Safe Schools Maryland” Tip Line

New School Safety Tip Line and Mobile App For Reporting Threats

Governor Larry Hogan today announced the launch of “Safe Schools Maryland,” a tip line and mobile app designed to streamline reporting of possible threats to students school facilities. Hogan made the announcement at the Maryland Emergency Management Agency, who will be responsible for monitoring the tip line and forwarding credible information to local law enforcement agencies and local school boards.

According to a press release:

“Incidents of targeted violence at our schools are rarely sudden impulsive acts; instead, in the majority of these incidents, another person was aware of what the student was thinking or planning to do,” said Governor Hogan.

Students, family members, parents, teachers, administrators, and other community members can anonymously report information to Safe Schools Maryland via a mobile app available for download through the Apple App Store or Google Play, online at www.SafeSchoolsMD.org, or by calling 1-833-MD-B-SAFE (1-833-632-7233). Trained technicians will respond to reports 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

The tip line staff will share incoming information with appropriate school system officials and staff; law enforcement personnel; fire, emergency, behavioral health, and medical staff; and other partners to help prevent violent or dangerous incidents at schools around the state and provide assistance to students in crisis. Students, parents, teachers, administrative staff, and others should be vigilant and report any activity that makes them feel uncomfortable, nervous, or frightened about the safety of their school, themselves, or others.

In many recent school violence incidents or threats, assailants have exhibited behavior that signaled a potential for violent activity or discussed such activity on social media. Some potential incidents around the country have been thwarted because alert students, parents, school staff, or others reported suspicious behaviors to appropriate authorities.

“We are honored that Governor Hogan has asked MEMA to coordinate the new safety initiative,” said MEMA Executive Director Russ Strickland. “This is aligned with MEMA’s mission to coordinate resources from multiple agencies and to be the authoritative source of 24-hour information gathering and dissemination. We are excited to take the lead to help our state, local, and non-government partners make Maryland schools safer as the field of emergency management broadens.”

Read the full press release for more information.

Conduit Street Podcast: Headlines & Happenings – Education, #NG911, Goucher Poll, Disaster Response, & Small Cells

On the latest episode of the Conduit Street Podcast, Michael Sanderson and Kevin Kinnally discuss the latest news and happenings around Maryland.

Listen in to hear updates on the [Kirwan] Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, the Commission to Advance Next Generation 9-1-1 Across Maryland, interesting tidbits from the most recent Goucher Poll, mutual aid in the wake of natural disasters, and the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC)proposed order intended to streamline and reduce industry’s costs for the deployment of small cells in local right of ways at the expense of local authority.

Listen here:

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.

Useful Links

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Conduit Street Podcast: Keeping up with Kirwan

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Kirwan Commission Aims to Revamp “At-Risk” Funding Formulas

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Commission to Advance #NG911 Holds First Meeting

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Questions About #NG9-1-1? MACo Has You Covered

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: MACo Submits Concerns to FCC Over Small Cell Order

MACo Legislative Committee Hears Update on School Safety

John Woolums, Director of Government Relations, Maryland Association of Boards of Education (MABE), briefed MACo’s Legislative Committee Wednesday, September 12, 2018, on school safety initiatives.

SB 1265, Maryland Safe to Learn Act of 2018, passed the General Assembly on the final day of the 2018 legislative session and has been signed into law by Governor Larry Hogan. The legislation creates a variety of statewide standards and guidelines on school safety.

Along with presenting a comprehensive overview of the bill’s requirements, Woolums stressed the importance of intergovernmental collaboration and coordination in developing and implementing public school safety and security programs.

“MABE looks forward to many successful collaborations between local boards of education, local government agencies and elected officials, local law enforcement agencies, state officials, and other interested parties committed to improving school safety throughout Maryland.”

Members of the MACo Legislative Committee include representatives from Maryland’s 23 counties and Baltimore City. The committee meets regularly on Wednesdays at the MACo office during the general assembly session. During the interim, the committee meets quarterly to develop legislative priorities for the coming year.

Useful Links

Previous Condit Street Coverage: Maryland Safe to Learn Act of 2018: What You Need to Know

MABE Summary of the Maryland Safe to Learn Act of 2018

DHCD Grants Wash Co $50K for After School Programming

The Maryland Department of Housing & Community Development has granted Washington County $51,455 for after-school youth programming. 

The grant, a part of the Community Development Block Grant Funds, will enable the Hagerstown YMCA to provide affordable after-school programming to families in the county.

The Washington County press release reports:

The Hagerstown Y believes that all kids have great potential. Our staff work hard every day to help them set and achieve personal and educational goals. With so many demands on today’s families, they need all the support they can get to nurture the potential of each and every child. Our after-school enrichment programs, such as the one started this school year in Hancock, focus on nurturing children’s development by providing a safe and healthy place to learn, develop healthy relationships and build confidence.

– Maria Rubeling, CEO of the Hagerstown YMCA

With the grant, the YMCA will be able to provide a subsidy for families in need, based on household income. The YMCA’s goal is to provide a “meaningful experience” for families with children that cannot afford quality after-school programming.