Gov’s Grants Conference

Join Maryland State, local governments, and nonprofits for the Governor’s Grants Conference on Monday, November 13, 2017. Experts will convene to discuss grant opportunities, the federal grants landscape, how to manage your grants properly and prepare for a clean audit (Uniform Guidance!)

Hear from federal and private funders and meet the State Grants Team at the Roundtable Session. Network with other organizations to collaborate on projects for a better chance at winning competitive grants. A special EARLY BIRD PRICE is available until midnight, September 21. Register a.s.a.p. as this event sells out early every year!

More Information | Register Today

MSDE, Baltimore City Sign Agreement To Improve Failing Schools

The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) and Baltimore City Public Schools have signed a memorandum of understanding designed to improve failing schools in the district. The MOU outlines the state’s plan to improve twenty-seven low-performing schools across the state, twenty-four of which are located in Baltimore City.

According to The Baltimore Sun,

“The key to everything is implementation,” Santelises said. “But what’s promising is that the [memorandum of understanding] really shows an effort on the state’s part to partner with Baltimore City public schools.”

The state has agreed to send leadership coaches to work one-on-one with principals in targeted schools on strategies for improvement. Other school officials, including assistant principals and some teachers, will also participate in programs aimed at stemming high turnover in underperforming schools.

As part of the agreement, the city has committed to reducing the number of school leaders who leave the city.

State officials plan to make regular visits to the twenty-seven priority schools to assess progress and make recommendations for improvement.

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 considering many recommendations centering around teacher preparation and teacher incentives. At its most recent meeting, the Commission discussed leadership training and career lattices for teachers and principals across the state.

Useful Links

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Dr. Kirwan To Education Commission: ‘We’ve Reached The Beginning Of The End’

Coverage from The Baltimore Sun

Gov. Hogan Terminates Funding for Baltimore Crime Panel

Governor Larry Hogan on Friday announced he is terminating state funding for the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, a panel formed in 1999 to tackle issues affecting criminal justice in Baltimore, initially focusing on streamlining the processing of criminal cases by coordinating the efforts of criminal justice system participants. The Council is fully funded through a state grant of about $272,000.

In a letter to the council’s chairman, V. Glenn Fueston Jr., the governor’s designee on the CJCC, says “the inability to deliver solutions in support of the governor’s initiatives forces the termination of the CJCC’s grant.”

According to WBAL,

The letter states that the CJCC mission is not being carried out: “Its goals to reduce violent crime are not being met. Continuing to fund the CJCC is simply not a responsible use of taxpayer dollars.”

The letter states that the funding will instead go to the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice — an office, the letter stated, “we are confident will not seek to evade the responsibility of providing the timely and actionable strategies to appropriately respond to this critical issue.”

Read the full article for more information.

Dr. Kirwan To Education Commission: ‘We’ve Reached The Beginning Of The End’

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.

Dr. Kirwan opened the meeting with a message to the Commission, saying, “we’ve reached the beginning of the end and are beginning to end… Up until now, we’ve been at the 30 thousand foot level with our discussions, we have to come down to 15 thousand feet, then 10 thousand feet, then 5 thousand feet, and then hopefully have a smooth landing in December.”

Pre-Kindergarten 

Commissioners began the day by trying to come to a consensus on several recommendations from the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE). The first NCEE recommendation is to expand and intensify education and support services for all 3-4 year-olds in the State.

There seems to be a general consensus on the idea of ensuring children are better prepared for kindergarten and, when necessary, providing pre-K. However, Commissioners disagree on how to implement and assess pre-K programs. Much of the debate centers around the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment (KRA).

According to Commissioner Craig Rice, Councilmember, Montgomery County, “all kids should be given the assessment test before they go to kindergarten so that teachers know each child’s readiness prior to the first day of class.” Commissioner David Helfman, Executive Director, Maryland State Education Association, disagreed, saying “the KRA was designed to measure the effectiveness of pre-K programs, not to get a baseline test score for each student… It’s about the administrator deciding what kind of sample needs to be looked at, not allowing individuals to decide whether they want their children to take it or not.” Commissioner Rice said that an accurate and representative sample is impossible without requiring all parents bring their kids to take the assessment, which would be impossible.

Sensing a lack of consensus on pre-K, Commission staff promised to invite the Maryland Department of Education to provide more information on pre-K and the KRA during the next meeting.

Teacher Preparation / Career Lattices

There seems to be agreement on many NCEE recommendations regarding teacher preparation and teacher incentives, including:

  • The number of teacher preparation programs offered at Maryland colleges should be reduced but not limited to research institutions
    • The State should use a data-driven process to select which teacher preparation programs should be offered based on producing successful teachers
  • A tuition forgiveness/other incentive programs should be developed to encourage top tier high school graduates to pursue the teaching profession
  • Alternative pathways into the teaching profession should not be eliminated, they should be modified and strengthened
  • A career ladder that includes a rigorous assessment of teaching performance should be created in each district. The ladder should lead to a top performance level, perhaps a “Master Teacher”

Commissioner Bill Valentine, County Commissioner, Allegany County, questioned recommendations to increase/alter teacher certification requirements, saying, “I question the timeline here. How much time are current teachers going to have to adhere to these new standards?” Chairman Kirwan noted that changes to certification requirements will require further discussion.

Governance Structure to Implement Commission Recommendations

The idea of developing a multi-year, statewide implementation plan with specific goals and strategies to enhance Maryland’s public education system was well received. In general, Commissioners agree that while the State should be responsible for setting overall goals and strategies, Local Education Agencies should be allowed to develop master plans to meet the goals and strategies set by the State.

However, there was disagreement on how to set up a governance structure for the implementation of such a plan. Commissioners could not come to a consensus on who should oversee the plan, and thus this recommendation will be subject to further review.

Funding

Commissioners began to discuss the financial impact of any potential recommendations toward the end of the day, so they could only scratch the surface. Commissioner Rice expressed concerns over unintended consequences resulting from potential changes to education formulas, saying, “we don’t want to give less money to at-risk students by tinkering with the formulas… we need to pay special attention to what we’re doing here.” The Commission will continue with funding discussions during their next meeting.

Chairman Kirwan closed the meeting by reminding the Commission that their work must be finished by December, emphasizing the need to “find a middle ground between the funding mechanism and the framework for ensuring accountability.

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 Thursday, October 12, 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.

 

Gov. Hogan: Opioid Epidemic Continues to Spiral Out of Control

Despite vigorous efforts that include the declaration of a state of emergency, spending over half a billion dollars, and widespread support from state and local stakeholders, Maryland continues to be plagued by a heroin and opioid epidemic. Governor Larry Hogan addressed the issue on WBAL NewsRadio 1090, saying that the state is taking an ‘all hands on deck’ approach in order to fight the epidemic.

According to WBAL NewsRadio 1090,

“This one is even more deadly than any other emergency we have ever seen. And it is more long lasting,” says Hogan.

The money the state has spent has gone to additional treatment beds for addicts, to help law enforcement, supplies of the opioid reversal drug Narcan and education programs to prevent people from using drugs. Hogan says the state has doubled the number of treatment beds.

The state also remains focused on going after the dealers who pushing the drugs on the streets and killing people. Hogan says one way that has been accomplished is by toughening laws and beefing up law enforcement.

Hogan says he would like to see President Donald Trump declare a federal state of emergency on opioid abuse. “He (President Trump) does think it is a federal emergency but he didn’t declare it like we have and that’s the next step I am hoping they will take,” says Hogan.

Heroin and opioid deaths continue to skyrocket in Maryland and across the country. The crisis has been exacerbated by the deadly combination of heroin and fentanyl,  a powerful synthetic opioid analgesic that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent.

Read the full article on WBAL NewsRadio 1090 for more information.

Harford Launches New Emergency Medical Standards Advisory Board

Harford County Executive Barry Glassman has announced the creation of a new Emergency Medical Services Standards Advisory Board.

As announced in a news release:

The EMS Standards Advisory Board will make strategic recommendations to support high quality emergency medical services in the county and plan for future needs. The all-volunteer board is comprised of five members with expertise from the medical, EMS and business communities, and the Harford County Volunteer Fire and EMS Association. The Board will be advisory to County Executive Glassman and report directly to Harford County Director of Emergency Services Edward Hopkins.

County Executive Glassman has charged the Board with making recommendations on the following:

  • Providing for and supporting high quality emergency medical services;
  • Strategies for efficient and effective services delivery, training and quality assurance;
  • Suggesting methods for billing and the collection of fees.

The creation of the EMS Standards Advisory board is the latest in a series of steps Glassman has taken to strengthen the delivery of emergency medical services in the county. Previous actions included setting a dedicated medical director to oversee patient care and establishing county owned and staffed “surge” ambulances.

“As a former volunteer fire fighter, and VFC president, I know that when our citizens call out for emergency services, Harford County’s first responders want nothing more than to deliver the best possible care. As county executive, it is my responsibility to ensure that our system is sustainable and can meet our future needs. Therefore, in addition to establishing initial protocols for our county-owned surge ambulances, the EMS Standards Advisory Board will work with our medical director, Department of Emergency Services’ staff, and various emergency service providers in the field to begin our long-term plan to support and strengthen future EMS services in the county,” County Executive Glassman said.

The five member EMS Standards Advisory Board includes chairman John W. Donohue,  Dr. David Hexter, Tami Wiggins, William A. Dousa Jr., and Lawrence A. Richardson Jr.

Read the Harford County news release to learn more.

Previous coverage from Conduit Street:

Harford County Begins Study of Emergency Medical Services System

Drone ‘Disaster Tourism’ Disrupts Work in Texas Recovery

Drone ‘disaster tourism’ is hindering the response to aid first responders and inspection critical infrastructure in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, a massive hurricane that ravaged Texas and other areas along the Gulf Coast.

According to Bloomberg,

The mass destruction brought on by Hurricane Harvey has been a seminal moment for drone operators, proving that they can effectively map flooding, locate people in need of rescue and verify damage to speed insurance claims. But the event has also illustrated the downside of a technology that has expanded so widely it has attracted irresponsible users who have hampered emergency crews.

The FAA last year approved regulations for the first time allowing routine commercial small-drone flights, making the influx after Harvey possible. Still, flights are limited to low altitudes and operators must keep the devices within sight. The agency didn’t respond to an email request for comment on whether it had begun any enforcement actions related to recent flights in Texas.

“In any young industry, during pivotal moments in its development, there are going to be positives and there are going to be missteps and mistakes that you need to learn from,” said Brian Scott, a drone company owner who was part of an impromptu team known as Humanitarian Drones that helped local officials in Houston, Port Arthur and Rockport.

In Rockport, which is on the Gulf of Mexico coast and suffered extensive damage, their team of six drones was able to photograph 1,650 homes, turning over the data to local government officials, Scott said. The data will be used in the community’s application for U.S. disaster assistance, he said.

“We’ve essentially done in two and a half days what it would have taken them two weeks to do on the ground,” he said. “That’s the kind of efficiency we’ve lent to them.”

The aforementioned Humanitarian Drones were all licensed to fly by the FAA to conduct commercial drone operations and received special permission to fly in some restricted zones. However, some of their work was hindered by amateur drone enthusiasts, many of whom did not have permission to operate their drones in the wake of Harvey.

Houston Fire Department drone pilot Patrick Hagan encountered a different problem: there still isn’t a formal system of keeping drones and the emergency helicopters that swarmed the city apart.

Hagan said the dozen missions he flew last week to document the extent of flooding in Houston provided valuable information that would have been difficult or far more costly to obtain. But he often flew no higher than tree-top level because the emergency helicopters criss-crossing the city had no way of seeing where he was.

An air-traffic system for small drones at low altitudes doesn’t exist and very few of the devices are equipped with the tracking beacons that can be seen by FAA controllers or other aircraft. As a result, managing drones in an emergency environment is still “a work in progress,” Hagan said.

He also encountered two people who were flying drones illegally even though the FAA had issued an order not to fly over the city. One was a teenage boy, he said.

There is no doubt that drones can be useful in the wake of disasters. But it seems clear that local governments need the authority to regulate drone use, especially during an emergency.

Legislation enacted in 2015 made Maryland one of only three states to grant the state government exclusive power to regulate drone usage, preempting municipalities and counties from enacting their own ordinances. MACo opposed this legislation as a preemption of county authority and was able to secure an amendment to assess the need for new laws or local tools after three years of industry maturation.

MACo, along with the Maryland State Police, are among the stakeholders charged with evaluating any safety or security problems arising from drone use as the industry expands in the years ahead. The stakeholder group will report its findings to the governor in 2018.

Useful Links

Flying Rubber Neckers Disrupt Drone Work in Texas Recovery

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Drones Carrying Defibrillators Could Aid Heart Emergencies

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Appeals Court Strikes Down Drone Regulation Law

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Drones Must be Registered Under New Federal Rule

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: General Assembly Passes Drone Bill With Study Amendment

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: To Detect, Deter, & Stop Unsafe Drone Use

DoD, National Guard Applaud Calvert Sheriff’s Office for Continued Support

The United States Military Department of Defense and the United States National Guard this week recognized the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office for its continued support of employees currently serving on active duty or in a reserve capacity.

According to a Calvert County Sheriff’s Office press release,

The Department of Defense Employee Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESRG) is a non-profit organization that supports employees who are active members of the National Guard and Reserve forces of the military.  The Calvert County Sheriff’s Office is fortunate to have several members who serve in the military reserves.  Currently one member is on Active Duty Orders in his reserve capacity.

Today, Lieutenant Tim Fridman (Deputy Commander of Criminal Investigations) and Sheriff Mike Evans were recognized for their continued support of these employees.  Detective William Rector re-enlisted into the Army Reserves and is currently assigned to Fort Meade, MD.  The training needs and potential for extended deployments are an ever-present reality, however the overwhelming support of the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office to those employees who are in the reserve components of the military make these challenges easier to deal with.

Calvert County Sheriff Mike Evans, Major (Ret.) Warren Johnson from ESGR, LT. Tim Fridman, and Detective William Rector (photo courtesy: Calvert County Sheriff’s Office)

Read the full press release for more information.

Western Maryland Officials Briefed on Opioid Crisis

Executive Director of the Opioid Operational Command Center, Clay Stamp, gave an update to Western Maryland officials on his offices’ statewide, comprehensive approach to addressing the opioid epidemic.

While providing his overview Stamp remarked on the challenges of getting community buy-in. Much of the action the state is coordinating will be done on the local level through the county opioid intervention teams. The governor has budgeted significant funding for programs spearheaded by these teams.

As reported in The Herald-Mail:

Stamp gave a status report on the state’s efforts to Western Maryland legislators gathered Thursday at Beaver Creek Country Club. Lawmakers from Washington, Frederick, Allegany and Garrett counties attended.

“It’s a crisis that carries “‘a lot of stigma,’” Stamp said. “There are a lot of competing interests around it.”

The state’s balanced approach of prevention and treatment has been “a hard sell” in communities, he said.

The article also notes that Stamp’s team is overseeing coordination between 14 state agencies and has developed four goals and four strategies. The four goals focus on prevention, access to treatment, enforcement, and reducing the number of overdoses. The four strategies involve spreading awareness to reduce stigma, focusing on a balance approach, using data as a centerpiece of program evaluations, and setting long-term expectations.

President Reverses Restrictions on Transfer of Military Gear to Local Police

President Trump signed an executive order reversing restrictions put in place by the Obama Administration limiting the military surplus program. The program provided a means for the transfer of excess military equipment to local police departments. The executive action allows for that program to resume.

Attorney General Jeff Session announced the order at a Fraternal Order of Police Conference noting that it was an important move for law enforcement safety and operations. As reported in Governing:

“These are the types of helmets and gear that stopped a bullet and saved the life of an officer during the Orlando night club shooting,” Sessions said. “This is the type of equipment officers needed when they pursued and ultimately killed terrorists in San Bernardino.”

The article notes that Obama had limited the program, which had been around since the 1990s and transferred over $500 million in military gear to local law enforcement, in 2015 after the high profile police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson that generated criticism of the heavily armored police. In addition to reversing the the restrictions, the Trump order also removes the requirement for county governments to approve the use of military equipment by local police departments in order for them to receive it.

Gear prohibited under Obama Executive Order.
Gear prohibited under Obama Executive Order.

Vox has a helpful visual of what gear had been prohibited and limited by Obama’s action that are now back in play through the Trump administration’s actions and a report on the reasoning behind the initial executive order and the recent reversal:

The task force wanted the Obama administration to draw a clear line between police’s “guardian” role and the military’s “warrior” role. The administration figured that one way to do that was by making it more difficult for police to obtain weapons that are seen by the public as tools of warriors instead of guardians.

Gear restricted under the Obama Executive Order.
Gear restricted under the Obama Executive Order.

The Trump administration obviously disagrees, focusing on arguments that not letting the police obtain military weapons makes their jobs more dangerous. They claim that police need the gear to combat criminals, such as drug cartels and terrorists, who can be just as heavily armed.

Finally, as the Governing article mentions, the Trump administration also repealed the Obama administration’s executive order limiting the use of civil asset forfeiture, a process by which police officers could take money and property from citizens even when they had not been charged with a crime, earlier this year.

 

 

For more information:

Trump Reverses Obama’s Ban on Military Gear Going to Police (Governing)

Trump’s plan to give police easier access to military weapons, explained (VOX)

Presidential Executive Order on Restoring State, Tribal, and Local Law Enforcement’s Access to Life-Saving Equipment and Resources (White House)

Sessions’ New Order Lets Police Circumvent State Laws on Civil Asset Forfeiture (Governing)

Attorney General Sessions Issues Policy and Guidelines on Federal Adoptions of Assets Seized by State or Local Law Enforcement (Department of Justice)

Previous coverage on Conduit Street:

Maryland Police Receive Military Provisions Under Federal Program

President Restricts Transfers of Military Equipment to Local Police Departments

DOJ Suspends Part of Asset Forfeiture Program