Community College Programs Enhance Workforce Development

A bill authorizing counties to opt-in to tuition waivers for vocational and apprenticeship programs, in addition to a tuition assistance program for Associate’s degrees, would help develop a stronger and more skilled workforce. MACo Policy Associate Kevin Kinnally testified in support of Senate Bill 261, “Community Colleges – Vocational Certificates, Apprenticeship Training Programs, and Associate Degrees – Tuition Assistance”, in front of the Education and Health and Environmental Affairs Committee on February 7, 2018.

This bill helps to achieve a stronger workforce and shows investment on the part of counties striving towards that goal. It also includes a mechanism for the State to match funding for tuition reimbursement, significantly reducing the burden on local governments.

From MACo Testimony:

Counties are invested in having strong and vibrant economies. A robust, well-trained, and educated workforce encourages businesses to locate to and grow in Maryland. This bill helps build relationships between local businesses and community colleges. It properly leaves the decision for establishing a program in the hands of the local government and community college who are best situated to determine whether a program is in their best interest. If a program is established, it requires both the county and the State to split the reimbursement of tuition assistance, disbursing financial burdens and ensuring that the State is equally invested in the advancement of its students and workforce.”

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2018 legislative session here.

Funding for Community Colleges Could Help Manage Cost of Tuition

MACo Policy Associate Kevin Kinnally testified in support of legislation (Senate Bill 303), that would increase state funding for community colleges starting in 2020, before the Education and Health and Environmental Affairs Committee on February 7, 2018.

The bill requires the Governor to provide $7 million in the State budget beginning in Fiscal Year 2020. This funding will relieve some of the burden placed on community colleges through tuition and residency waivers.

From MACo Testimony:

When state funding for community colleges lags, additional pressure builds on county budgets and on student tuition. When county budgets face distress from the economic climate or state actions, the local contributions cannot reliably offset these unfunded mandates. For the past several years, this combined dynamic has led to increased tuition costs for Maryland community college students, at a time when the training and education opportunities are most needed.

SB 303 would help to offset unfunded state mandates for tuition and residency waivers, signaling a new commitment to community colleges on behalf of the State. This legislation would support policy changes that will allow community colleges to extend affordable education and career training access to more Marylanders.”

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2018 legislative session here.

New Report Details State Education Aid to Local Governments

The Maryland Department of Legislative Services recently released its annual report detailing state aid to local governments. State education funding is one of the topics discussed in the report.

Highlights

The Governor’s 2019 budget proposal increases state public education funding by 2.5%. The bump is a combination of mandated formulaic increases and $15.2M in hold-harmless grants to ensure no jurisdiction receives less state education aid than it did in 2018.

Screen Shot 2018-02-01 at 11.33.27 AM
Source: Department of Legislative Services

The majority of State education aid falls into one of three categories.

General Education Aid

General Education Aid provides a minimum level of operating support for all students, driven by total student enrollment and local wealth. The foundation program is the main program in general education aid and accounts for almost half of State education aid. The foundation program ensures a base level of funding. The foundation program is calculated by multiplying the per-pupil foundation amount by local enrollment.

Foundation Program

At the statewide level, the foundation formula is designed to have the State pay roughly 50% of program costs; however, the State’s share for the less wealthy jurisdictions is higher than 50% and the State’s share for more wealthy jurisdictions is lower than 50% (wealth equalization).

  • The amount of State aid that a jurisdiction receives is based on FTE student enrollment and local wealth
  • No jurisdiction may receive less than 15% of the base per-pupil amount from the State
Screen Shot 2018-02-01 at 11.34.07 AM
Source: Department of Legislative Services

Other General Education Aid

Geographic Cost of Education Index (GCEI): GCEI is a Maryland‐based index that adjusts the amount of State aid a local school system receives based on regional differences in the cost of educational resources.

  • The GCEI formula does not reduce funding for jurisdictions where educational resources are less expensive
  • Unlike every other major State aid program, GCEI was not mandated until fiscal 2017
  • GCEI only applies to the foundation program and the State pays the State and local shares

Guaranteed Tax Base: GTB provides additional funds to jurisdictions with less than 80% of the statewide wealth per pupil that provide local education funding above the minimum local share required by the foundation program.

  • The State provides the funds that would have been generated locally if the jurisdiction had the wealth base that is guaranteed
  • Per pupil GTB amount for any one local school system is limited to 20% of the per-pupil foundation amount provides a minimum level of operating support for all students, driven by total student enrollment and local wealth.
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Source: Department of Legislative Services

Targeted Education Aid

The targeted formulas recognize the additional costs associated with educating certain student populations:

  • Special education (0.74 X base level of funding per pupil)
  • Compensatory education (based on free and reduced-price meal status) (0.97 X base level of funding per pupil)
    • Prekindergarten funding is accounted for in the compensatory education formula
  • Limited English proficiency (0.99 X base level of funding per pupil)

Although the State provides approximately 50% of the total estimated cost of each program, local governments are not required to provide the other half. Funding amounts and distributions are based on local wealth and enrollments of the three targeted student populations, however, no jurisdiction may receive less than 40% of the full per-pupil amount from the State.

Source: Department of Legislative Services

Noninstructional State Aid

Student Transportation: Each local school system is required to provide transportation to and from school for all public school students.

  • Transportation funding consists of a base grant that is adjusted annually and a per pupil grant based on the number of students with special transportation needs

Other Noninstructional Aid: Includes early education, food service, adult education, and a variety of innovative programs.

Teacher Retirement Costs

  • Prior to 2012, the State paid 100% of teacher retirement costs
  • In 2012, legislation required locals to share in the cost of retirement
  • Retirement aid is not wealth equalized
  • In fiscal 2016, local share ranged from 25%-30%
Source: Department of Legislative Services

The Maryland Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, Known as the Kirwan Commission because it is chaired by former University System Chancellor Brit Kirwan, 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.

After a series of marathon meetings, which featured expert testimony, consultant reporting, and citizen input, the Commission has reached consensus around key policy areas and preliminary recommendations. The Commission expects to complete its work later this year.

You can learn more about education funding by listening to the Conduit Street Podcast.

Useful Links

DLS Report: Overview of State Aid to Local Governments

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Kirwan Commission Finalizes Preliminary Recommendations

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Take a “Deep Dive” Into Local Government Financial Info

Conduit Street Podcast: #FixtheFund, Opioid Litigation, Wave of HUR Bills, Local Aid Intrigue, and more!

Maryland lawmakers on Tuesday unveiled a plan to amend the state constitution to ensure that taxes on casino revenues set aside for education are used to supplement, not supplant state funding for public schools.

Also this week, Baltimore City became the latest jurisdiction to announce plans to file lawsuits against opioid manufacturers, doctors, and so-called “pill mills,” in an effort to stem the drug abuse epidemic that is killing tens of thousands of Americans each year.

Could a compromise be in the works for the restoration of local highway user revenues? A new wave of bills may be pointing in that direction.

Finally, the Department of Legislative Services (DLS) has released their annual report detailing state aid to local governments and local effects of the state budget. The report includes details on virtually every component of state aid to local governments in the proposed FY 19 budget.

On the latest episode of the Conduit Street Podcast, Kevin Kinnally and Michael Sanderson break down the plan to place casino revenues in an education “lockbox,” analyze the possible outcomes of opioid litigation, discuss the new wave of highway user revenue bills, highlight some interesting tidbits from the DLS report, and more!

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.

Listen Here:

If you are having trouble using this media player, listen on our website.

The MACo Way In Ways & Means

On Thursday, MACo Legislative Committee members and staff briefed the Ways and Means Committee on priorities for the 2018 session.

Talbot County Council Member Laura Price discussed the importance of funding local infrastructure and the effects highway user revenue cuts have had on her county.

MACo Legislative Committee and Education Subcommittee Chair Craig Rice, Montgomery County Council Member, was greeted warmly as a former member of the committee. He discussed strong and smart school construction funding and his work and thoughts from representing MACo on the Kirwan Commission.

MACo Associate Director Barbara Zektick discussed the problems with the Governor’s proposals to shift costs of the State Department of Assessments and Taxation onto the counties. MACo Executive Director rounded out the presentation by discussing tax reform effects.

At the end of the hearing, Vice Chair Frank Turner indicated sympathy for counties for enduring highway user revenue cuts for as long as they have. He indicated that something should be done to restore the revenues to local governments.

List of 2019 School Construction Projects Approved for State Funding

The current year’s Capital Improvement Program as approved by the Board of Public Works on January 24th, 2018 is now available online.

As described, this is part of the way through the approval process for 2019 projects. In January, the Board of Public Works approved the recommendations of the IAC for 75% of the Governor’s preliminary allocation for fiscal year 2019.

As described in the Introduction to the Capital Improvement Program report,

The IAC will meet in February 2018 to consider additional staff recommendations to reach 90% of the Governor’s submitted capital budget. In accordance with statute, the IAC will submit the 90% recommendations prior to March 1 to the Board of Public Works, presiding officers and budget committees of the General Assembly, the Department of Legislative Services, local education agencies and county governments. No formal approval is required for the recommendations.

The Public School Construction website lists projects by county and provides a summary document of all requests.

For more information, see the Public School Construction Program list of the FY 2019 CIP.

Legislature Leadership Proposes Legislation to #FixtheFund

Maryland lawmakers on Tuesday unveiled a plan to amend the state constitution to ensure that taxes on casino revenues set aside for education are used to supplement, not supplant state funding for public schools.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. and House Speaker Michael E. Busch spoke in support of legislation to place a constitutional amendment on the November ballot. The ballot question would ask voters to approve of putting a “lockbox” on casino money (around $500M per year), requiring it to be used for education above the amount set by state formulas.

According to Maryland Matters,

Miller said the lockbox legislation will be modeled after the 2013 increase in the gas tax, which required that increased revenue flow into the state’s transportation trust fund. The bill will include a “escape hatch” that allows the Assembly to divert casino revenues into the general fund if a fiscal emergency occurs, aides said.

The Maryland Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, commonly known as the Kirwan Commission, is expected to issue make a series of education funding and policy recommendations after the 2018 session. Backers of the proposed constitutional amendment on gaming funds said the increased revenue would at least partially fund the panel’s proposals.

Advocates of the legislation created a #FixtheFund hashtag to draw attention to the issue.

Read the full article from Maryland Matters for more information and stay tuned to Conduit Street for updates on #FixtheFund.

 

Gubernatorial Candidates Address Community College Leadership

Several Maryland gubernatorial candidates were on hand Monday evening for the Maryland Association of Community Colleges’ (MACC)Gubernatorial Forum. Candidates were asked about the ways community colleges benefit Maryland and whether they would support and fund a Maryland Promise program, if elected.

From left to right: Jim Shea, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, Ben Jealous, Alec Ross, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, Maryland State Senator Richard Madaleno, Krishanti Vignarajah (photo courtesy MACC)

Promise Programs are designed to address financial barriers for students who have the academic readiness and commitment to succeed in college, but lack all the necessary financial resources to do so, even if they qualify for federal financial aid.

According to a press release:

Candidates were unanimous in their support of community colleges and several shared stories of their own experiences as community college students or professors. There was less agreement among the candidates about how to make community college more affordable for students, but several did express support for a Maryland Promise program that would provide free tuition for eligible students.

Candidates in attendance were: Prince George’s County Executive, Rushern Baker; Ben Jealous, former president and chief executive officer of the NAACP; Baltimore County Executive, Kevin Kamenetz; Richard Madaleno, Maryland state senator from the 18th district; Alec Ross, former senior advisor in the Obama administration; Jim Shea, former chair of the Board of Regents at the University System of Maryland; and Krishanti Vignarajah, former senior adviser and policy director in the Obama administration.

“Rapid advancements in technology mean equally rapid changes in necessary workforce skills,” said Dr. Bernie Sadusky, MACC’s executive director. “Maryland needs more workers with today’s skills, otherwise we limit our businesses and economy. A Maryland Promise program would expand Maryland’s skilled workforce by making training at community colleges accessible to more students.”

Read the full press release for more information.

Article Explores School Maintenance Funding Gaps

An article in Governing describes gaps in infrastructure in the nation’s schools.

From Governing,

Nationwide, state and local school districts are spending around $99 billion per year on capital investment and maintenance and operation of facilities, according to the 2016 State of Our Schools Report, compiled by the 21st Century School Fund, the National Council on School Facilities and the Center for Green Schools. The report suggests an additional $46 billion per year is necessary to properly maintain and upgrade facilities and build new schools to keep up with enrollment patterns.

In it’s last meeting, the Maryland 21st Century School Facilities Commission reviewed a recommendation on maintenance that states:

Preventative maintenance is critical – there is a need to require school systems to perform required regular maintenance and for the State to develop required maintenance schedules based on industry standards and collect and monitor performance data through a comprehensive maintenance management system that is integrated with the facility assessment information system.

. . .

Require local school systems to report annually on their preventative maintenance schedules and the preventative maintenance measures they have carried out on all major functional systems in each of their school buildings.

The Commission’s final report is expected Monday, January 22, for a briefing on the Commission to the House Appropriations Committee.

More information:

Briefing information:

  • Monday January 22, 2018, 1 PM
  • 21st Century School Facilities Commission – Full Committee Briefing
  • Room 120, House Office Building, Annapolis, MD 21401-1991

 

 

Maryland Receives Federal Approval of New School Improvement Plan

The U.S. Department of Education has approved Maryland’s plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the federal law requiring state action on school improvement.

According to a press release,

Allowing states more flexibility in how they deliver education to students is at the core of ESSA. Each state crafted a plan that it feels will best offer educational opportunities to meet the needs of the state and its students.

The following are some of the unique elements from Maryland’s approved plan as highlighted by the state:

  • Awards credit for elementary school students completing a well-rounded curriculum as measured by the percentage of students passing social studies, fine arts, physical education and health.
  • Supports low-performing schools through innovative strategies based on collaboration between local school districts and the state, including providing access to leadership coaches for school leaders at low-performing schools in order to give guidance on the implementation of school improvement strategies.

“Maryland’s efforts, built on strong stakeholder input, are based on the belief that each child is important and deserves the highest quality education program,” said Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon. “We appreciate the support of the U.S. Department of Education, and we will continue our school improvement work with a focus on preparing every student for college and career.”

Read the full press release for more information.