9 Counties Could See a Decrease in State’s School Construction Funding Share in 2019

The Interagency Committee on School Construction has recommended revised state cost share percentages to the Board of Public Works.

As described in the IAC meeting agenda, the state contributions on a percentage basis to four local education agencies (LEAs, or school boards), will increase, while the state contribution to nine others will decrease.

The Percentage of four (4) LEAs will increase, 11 LEAs and the Maryland School for the Blind Percentage’s will remain unchanged, and the Percentage of nine (9) LEAs is decreased. By regulation a decrease in Percentage cannot exceed 5% in any fiscal year. Therefore, for Baltimore City the decrease will occur over two (2) fiscal years.


The state’s school construction funding share only applies to eligible costs in school construction, so architectural and engineering fees, furnishings and other costs remain the whole responsibility of local governments, in addition to the percentage of project costs not covered by the State’s share.

The Board of Public Works will vote on the revised state share recommendation at its August 16 meeting.

From the agenda:

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Howard County Schools Extends Summer Lunch Program

Howard County schools are extending the summer lunch program at Stevens Forest Elementary School in Columbia because of high attendance and a need for services, county officials said Friday.

According to The Columbia Flier,

The program was originally slated to end Friday. The three other locations for the program — Harper’s Choice Middle School, Murray Hill Middle School and Thomas Viaduct Middle School — are closed for the summer.

Locations for the program are based in part on the percentage of students who receive free or reduced-price lunches during the school year. Almost 70 percent of students at Stevens Forest receive free or reduced-price lunches, according to data from the county school system.

The program, which began only last year, is flourishing. According to Howard County officials, the number of meals served this year is expected to surpass the 50,000 meals served last year.

Read the full article for more information.

Diversity Caucus to Hold Luncheon at #MACoCon

The Maryland County Officials Diversity Caucus (Diversity Caucus) will hold a luncheon from noon – 1:00 pm on Thursday, August 17, 2017 at 2017 MACo Summer Conference. The luncheon is open to all conference attendees with a Thursday lunch ticket. A Thursday lunch ticket is provided with a full conference registration, and may also be purchased separately with the Thursday daily registration.

The Diversity Caucus provides an organizational structure for county elected officials of minority descent to empower, represent, and respond to issues affecting the most vulnerable communities and constituencies; to promote legislation and policies beneficial to the people they represent; and to serve as a central point for information and participation within the Maryland Association of Counties. The mission of the Diversity Caucus is to foster current and future leaders from within the community of elected officials of minority descent and in Maryland county government, and to provide resources and support for Diversity Caucus members and those who share its goals. Visit the MACo website to learn more about the Maryland County Officials Diversity Caucus.

The MACo summer conference is August 16-19, 2017 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City Maryland. This year’s theme is “You’re Hired!”.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Marylanders Educated, Prosperous, and Paying High Healthcare Premiums

dflurymw0aamnqrMaryland residents are very educated and fairly prosperous when compared to other states, according to a study by Washington-based national nonprofit Prosperity Now – but we have a ways to go in terms of business and employment equity, and are last on the list in terms of high employee shares for health insurance premiums.

Maryland ranked fourth in the nation for education, out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Almost 39 percent of adults aged 25 and older hold at least a four-year college degree, compared to 30.6 percent nationally. Nearly nine out of ten Maryland students entering high school in the 2011-12 school year graduated in four years – 87 percent. More than half of Maryland college students graduate with student loan debt, and 9.9 percent of Maryland borrowers entering repayment on their student loans in 2013 defaulted within three years.

Maryland ranks 17th on the “prosperity of its residents,” according to the nonprofit. Maryland ranked third for its low percentage of households with income below the federal poverty threshold (9.2 percent, compared to 13.8 percent nationwide). While 36.8 percent of households nationwide could not subsist at the poverty level for three months if they lost their major source of income (the “liquid asset poverty rate”), in Maryland, that number is less than 24 percent. One-fifth of Maryland jobs are in low-wage occupations. Maryland scored squarely in the middle for income volatility: 21.4 percent of Marylanders indicated that their incomes varied somewhat or a lot from month to month in the previous year, compared to 20.9 percent nationally.

Maryland ranked 23rd out of all states in the businesses and jobs category, but scored significantly poorly in business and employment equity categories. Our state ranked 43rd for its ratio of unemployment of its white, non-Hispanic labor force compared to its labor force of color. We ranked 43rd in small business ownership, 46th for business value by race, and 45th for business value by gender. (“Business value by race” is defined as “the ratio of the average business value, in terms of sales, receipts or revenue, of White, non-Hispanic-owned businesses to businesses owned by workers of color”; “business value by gender” is defined similarly as the “ratio of average business value, in terms of sales and receipts, of women-owned businesses to men-owned businesses.”)

Similar disparities exist in the healthcare category. Maryland ranked 17th for healthcare, with high rankings for percentage of non-elderly with health insurance, employer-provided insurance coverage, and few adults reporting poor or fair health status. However, Maryland actually ranked 51 out of 51 for high employee shares of premiums, or the “percentage of the average employee contribution to family premiums for employer-based health insurance.” The average employee contribution in Maryland is 35.4 percent, compared to 27.2 percent nationally. Maryland ranked 47th in the “uninsured by race” category: the uninsured rate is 3.2 times as high for people of color than the white, non-Hispanic population (compared to 2.1 times nationally).

Maryland ranked 37th out of all states for homeownership and housing. We ranked 25th for homeownership, but half of all renters are “cost burdened,” meaning they spend 30 percent or more of their income on rent and utilities – placing Maryland 39th in this category. Maryland ranked 43rd for delinquent mortgage loans, with 1.8 percent of loans with payments 90 or more days overdue.

Prosperity Now describes its scorecard:

The Prosperity Now Scorecard is a comprehensive resource featuring data on family financial health and policy recommendations to help put all U.S. households on a path to prosperity. The Scorecard equips advocates, policymakers and practitioners with national, state, county and city data to jump-start a conversation about solutions and policies that put households on stronger financial footing across five issue areas: Financial Assets & Income, Businesses & Jobs, Homeownership & Housing, Health Care and Education.

Useful Links

Prosperity Now’s Maryland data

Baltimore data (March 2016)

Herald-Mail Media coverage, with Washington County data

Kirwan Commission Discusses Equity in Education, Maryland’s ESSA Draft Plan

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 focused on addressing the impact of poverty on public education, resources for at-risk students, community schools, and Maryland’s ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) draft plan.

Paul Reville, Francis Keppel Professor of Practice of Educational Policy and Administration at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, gave a presentation on education reform in Massachusetts. The goal of the 1993 Massachusetts Education Reform Act (MERA) was to create adequacy, equity, and stability in the state’s school finance system. According to Reville, “The business of providing schools with adequate resources to educate children is not a local responsibility. It’s a state system, and thus the state is responsible for providing resources to adequately educate children.” Accordingly, MERA doubled state funding for K–12 education from $1.3 billion in 1993 to $2.6 billion in 2000.

The Commission also heard testimony from Marc Tucker, President and CEO of the National Center on Education and the Economy. Mr. Tucker gave a brief summary of school funding in Maryland and how it compares to school funding in top performing states and countries. Mr. Tucker also discussed per-pupil funding formulas, funding formulas for at-risk students, and equity in education funding.

The Maryland Department of Education (MSDE) presented its draft Consolidated State Plan for ESSA, a federal law passed in December 2015 that governs K-12 public education policy. According to MSDE, the purpose of ESSA “is to provide all students the opportunity to receive a fair, equitable, and high-quality education, and to close educational achievement gaps.” MSDE began its work on the draft plan in February 2016 and will submit its final plan to the U.S. Department of Education by September 18, 2017. Click here to view MSDE’s draft Consolidated State Plan.

The Commission also heard testimony from advocates for community schools, publicly funded schools that serve as both educational institutions and a center of community life.

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 Council Member 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, August 30, 2017; 9:30 am-5:30 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.

Where We’re Going, We Don’t Need Roads

stephen cox
Stephen Cox will speak about opportunities for high school students to learn about fire service in Harford County.

It’s back to the future for Maryland’s students. Not all need a college degree to succeed, but training will be key.

Schools are changing course to prepare students for a new economy, including careers that will not require study at a four-year undergraduate institution. And even for those who pursue higher education, technical skills will be an asset. Hear how high schools are incorporating careers into the classroom through partnership with industry experts, and programs that provide job training and certification at this year’s summer conference session, Where We’re Going, We Don’t Need Roads: Let Career Training Transport Maryland Students.

  • Speakers:
    • Stephen Cox, Cadet Program Coordinator, Harford County Volunteer Fire & EMS Association
    • Lynne Gilli, Assistant State Superintendent Division of Career and College Readiness, Maryland State Department of Education
    • Michael Thomas, Director, Office of Learning to Work, Baltimore City Public Schools
    • Kristine Pearl, Supervisor Career and Technology Education, Frederick County Public Schools
  • Moderator: The Honorable Jim Rosapepe, Maryland State Senate
  • Date/Time: Saturday, August 19, 2017; 9:00 am – 10:00 am

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:


Andrew Smarick Re-Elected State School Board President

The Maryland State Board of Education Thursday unanimously re-elected Andrew R. Smarick as president, and re-elected Chester Finn as vice president.

According the The Garrett County Republican,

Smarick is the Morgridge Fellow in Education at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). He has been an education aide at the White House Domestic Policy Council and deputy assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Education. Earlier in his career, he served as a legislative aide to a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Maryland and members of the Maryland General Assembly. He also served as deputy commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Education.

Smarick was a member of Gov. Robert Ehrlich’s Commission on Quality Education. He helped found a college-preparatory charter school and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and was a founding board member of 50CAN. A product of Maryland’s primary and secondary public schools, Smarick earned a bachelor’s degree, summa cum laude and with honors, from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a master’s degree in public management from the University of Maryland School of Public Policy. He lives in Stevensville with his wife and three children.

Dr. Finn his the Distinguished Senior Fellow and President Emeritus at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. He is also a Senior Fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution.

Finn served as Fordham’s President from 1997 to 2014, after many earlier roles in education, academe and government. From 1999 until 2002, he was John M. Olin Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and previously at Hudson Institute. In 1992-94, he served as founding partner and senior scholar with the Edison Project. He was professor of education and Public Policy at Vanderbilt University from 1981 until 2002.

From 1985 to 1988, he served as assistant secretary for Research and Improvement & Counselor to the Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education. Earlier positions include staff assistant to the president of the United States; special assistant to the governor of Massachusetts; counsel to the U.S. ambassador to India; research associate at the Brookings Institution; and legislative director for Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

For more than 40 years, Finn has been in the forefront of the national debate about school reform. His participation in seminars, conferences, and hearings has taken him to colleges, education and civic groups, and government organizations throughout the world. He is the author or co-author of more than 20 books.

A native of Ohio, he holds an undergraduate degree in U.S. history, a master’s degree in social studies teaching, and a doctorate in education policy, all from Harvard University. Dr. Finn and his wife, Dr. Renu Virmani, a physician, have two grown children and three granddaughters. They live in Chevy Chase.

Read the full article for more information.

Worcester Receives $38K from Education Foundation

The Worcester County Education Foundation this week donated $38,000 to aid the school system with technology expenses.

According to The Dispatch,

On Tuesday, Todd Ferrante, chairman of the Worcester County Education Foundation, presented a $38,000 check to the Worcester County Board of Education. The donation will provide funding for the purchase of laptop cases and covers as well as other technology related expenses.

“We certainly appreciate everything you do for our students of Worcester County,” said Steve Price, the school system’s chief operating officer.

In an update provided to the school board, Ferrante outlined the various ways the foundation has been working to support local students. Since it was established in 2014, members of the foundation have worked hard to collect funding to aid in the county’s digital conversion, which aims to provide every student with a mobile device.

“We’ve been very, very busy,” Ferrante said. “We can’t do it with just one person. We are a team.”

Ferrante said the foundation had accumulated $650,000 in money and pledges during the past three years.

The funding has already gone toward the school system’s digital conversion. A $35,000 donation last year enabled the school system to buy laptop cases. This year’s $38,000 donation will purchase 550 laptop cases and 200 covers for Chromebooks as well as a cart of iPads and a cart of Chromebooks.

The foundation has also provided grants to teachers. Six were awarded last year and nine were awarded this year.

Superintendent Lou Taylor praised the foundation’s efforts. He said because of the organization the school system was able to meet its technology needs now rather than later.

“This is not a funding organization that takes the place of our county, state or federal government funding,” he said. “They just help expedite our needs and get things done quicker.”

Read the full article for more information.

Harford Community College Receives Grants to Boost STEM Education

In an effort to attract and support more students in STEM majors, Harford Community College has been granted nearly $650,000 to provide scholarships over the next four years.

The National Science Foundation grant for $648,953 is designed to encourage academically talented students (a GPA of 3.0 or higher) with financial need to continue their education and pursue careers in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, according to Tami Imbierowicz, associate professor of biology in the STEM division at HCC.

The Aegis reports,

Grants of up to $10,000 per year will be available based on need and academic standing for students who major in biology and engineering, the two most popular STEM majors at HCC, Imbierowicz said. Applications will be accepted through Aug. 15. To learn more about these scholarship and the HI-StEM cohort, visit http://www.harford.edu/stem2017.

About 40 percent of the grant will help provide students with stipends to do summer research or complete an internship.

“We are making it financially available to students and giving them the academic support, building the program around them for their success,” Imbierowicz said. “The idea is to get more STEM majors, to get more STEM students successful in STEM careers, to increase graduation rates and get them career ready.”

STEM fields continue to grow, and academic institutions are trying to encourage students into those study areas, she said.

This is a growing field all over, on a multiple number of levels,” Imbierowicz said. “The job outlook is there. There is competition around the world because other countries are also focused on science, math, engineering and we want students to be competitive in the world market.”

Scholarship students will be a part of the HI-StEM (High Intensity Student Engagement Model) program, a cohort learning community led by STEM faculty to create stronger connections and engagement with STEM students through targeted academic programming, according to an HCC news release.

Imbierowicz estimates 10 to 13 students would be part of each three, two-year cohorts over the term of the grant, which translates to scholarship assistance for 36 to 42 students.

When HCC applied for the grant, of the 6,543 students enrolled at the school, 177 were biology majors and 177 were engineering majors. Of those, 44 percent of biology students and 39 percent of engineering students received financial aid, Imbierowicz said. The average unmet need was $4,800, she said.

Working with partners at Aberdeen Proving Ground and local industry, along with experiential learning opportunities such as field trips and course-based research involvement, will be part of the student cohort experience.

This is the second NSF grant HCC has received this year. The Business, Education and Computing & Applied Technology Division was recently awarded a $200,000 grant for advanced technological education.

With those grant funds, the college will create an additive manufacturing career pathway for community college and high school students to fill the workforce needs of the growing additive manufacturing field in Northeastern Maryland, HCC officials said.

Additive manufacturing is the process of making objects from 3D model data by joining materials layer by layer, a departure from traditional machining manufacturing.

Read the full article for more information.

More Support and Less Regulation, School Construction Head Suggests

Bob Gorrell, the State’s new school construction head addressed the 21st Century School Facilities Commission in Annapolis at the first meeting of the Commission since January.

Gorrell emphasized how Maryland could work towards greater equity and quality of school facilities statewide through adopting some of the methods used in New Mexico, where he served previously as Executive Director of the New Mexico Public School Facilities Authority.

Examples of methods used in New Mexico include:

  • Focusing on long-term operating costs and whole life-cycle costs of facilities
  • Developing school building adequacy standards
  • Using a facility condition index and a needs ranking to create an impartial list of school construction priorities

Gorrell commended Maryland’s maximum square foot allocations for state participation as a positive practice and suggested that Maryland could be overbuilding its schools.

Overall, he suggested that the State could provide tools and technical guidance to support school boards, and less regulation.

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A slide from the presentation of Bob Gorrell, Maryland’s new school construction head, presents ideas to the State’s 21st Century School Facilities Commission.

For more information, including the powerpoint presentations from the meeting, check the 21st Century Commission’s webpage for updates.

MACo has advocated for reducing regulatory burdens that contribute to school construction costs. Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner, one of the county representatives to the 21st Century Commission recently developed a report with several cost reduction strategies. For more information, see Ideas Add Up to a 10% Reduction in County School Construction Costs.