County Leaders to Focus on School Funding at #MACoCon Roundtable Discussions

The next round of school funding debates is “on the table” for a roundtable discussion at this year’s annual MACo Winter Conference. Attend this session to hear updates and provide input on potential recommendations being considered by the Maryland Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education.

The Next Round of School Funding Debates

Description: Join MACo’s representatives from the Commission on Innovation and Excellence Education to hear an update on the latest round of school funding debates in Maryland. The Commission, charged with reviewing and assessing current education financing formulas and accountability measures, is set to make its final recommendations later this month. This roundtable discussion will provide elected officials with insight into any potential recommendations, which are likely to affect all of Maryland’s twenty-four jurisdictions.

Speakers:

  • The Honorable Craig Rice, County Council Member, Montgomery County
  • The Honorable William Valentine, County Commissioner, Allegany County

Moderator: Michael Sanderson, Executive Director, Maryland Association of Counties

Date/Time: Wednesday, December 6, 2017; Noon – 1:00 pm

The MACo Winter Conference will be held December 6-8, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Hotel in Cambridge, Maryland. This year the conference’s theme is “The Power of Partnership.”

Learn more about MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference:

School Bus Stop Arm Violations Down From Last Year

A new Maryland Department of Education-sponsored survey shows that Maryland motorists are paying more attention to school bus stop arms.

According to a press release:

Stop arms swing out from a bus and lights flash whenever it is making an on-roadway student pick-up. A total of 3,384 violations of school bus stop arms were recorded on a single day last spring. That represents nearly a 1,000 violation decrease compared to the number recorded in 2016 and well below the 7,011 recorded when the survey began in 2011.

Governor Larry Hogan issued a proclamation declaring School Bus Safety week from October 16-20. The new survey results are being released as that observance is about to begin.

MSDE coordinated the survey in April along with school transportation directors in all 24 school systems. It is considered a snapshot of illegal activity on the roads. Eighty percent of Maryland school bus drivers took part in the survey.

School systems, bus drivers, and law enforcement have been raising awareness about stop arm violations for the past seven years.

Large systems with more buses and bus routes noted the most violators. Baltimore County tallied the most – 767, followed closely by 661 witnessed by Montgomery County school bus drivers. Both systems found significant decreases in comparison to last year.

The MSDE survey this past spring was undertaken at the behest of a number of members of the Maryland General Assembly, which has been monitoring school bus safety. The National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services is coordinating surveys of this type in all 50 States.

Read the full press release for more information.

Conduit Street Podcast, Episode #3 – Education Funding In Maryland

The first major review of education funding in more than ten years is nearing completion. 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.

Many of the Thornton Commission’s recommendations were incorporated into the Bridge to Excellence in Public Schools Act of 2002, a plan intended to increase statewide education funding by $1.1 billion over five years.

One element of the Bridge to Excellence Act was a second review of the State’s education funding. The Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education is that second review.

On the latest episode of the Conduit Street Podcast, Kevin Kinnally and Michael Sanderson discuss education funding in Maryland.

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

Listen here:

Kirwan Commission Stays True To Form

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.

It was widely anticipated that today’s meeting would focus on education funding, especially because some Commissioners recently expressed concerns over how little time has been spent analyzing proposed funding changes. Instead, staying true to form, the Commission spent the day listening to testimony on broad policy initiatives.

Robert Slavin, Director, Center for Research and Reform in Education, Johns Hopkins University, testified on the importance of intensive, individual programs, such as one-on-one tutoring, for students struggling to achieve proficiency standards. While the Commission seemed to agree on a philosophical level, some Commissioners said the approach was cost prohibitive.

Career and technical education (CTE) continued to be a hot topic of discussion. Commissioners agreed that Maryland’s CTE standard is less rigorous than the standard in top performing systems.

In addition to providing more rigorous CTE programs, the Commission recommends that Maryland implement a communication plan to dispel the notion that CTE programs are only meant for students who do not excel in traditional academic subjects. This communication plan will also inform students and parents that enrolling in a CTE program in no way precludes the ability to attend college.

Montgomery County Councilmember Craig Rice, representing MACo on the Commission, praised efforts to expand CTE programs in Maryland. According to Councilmember Rice:

CTE programs have been very successful in counties, and with a small state investment, these programs can continue to grow. Expanding CTE should rise to the top of our recommendations. A lot of the the recommendations we’re talking about are very expensive, this one isn’t. It’s a no brainer.

Delegate Maggie McIntosh, representing the Maryland House of Delegates on the Commission, expressed frustration with the lack of input from the business community on how to best expand CTE programs, she stated:

The business community worked side by side with the Thornton Commission, but now no one is here on behalf of the business community. We need a renewed dialouge with the business community.

The Commission also heard panel testimony from the Maryland Association of Boards of Education (MABE), the Public School Superintendents’ Association of Maryland (PSSAM), and the Maryland State Education Association (MSEA), among others.

MABE’s presentation included an emphasis on the importance of local boards of education having authority over local education spending. MSEA outlined their top three priorities:

  1. Increased salaries for teachers.
  2. Increased staffing for schools.
  3. Addressing poverty

The Commission’s next meeting will focus on the analysis from Augenblick, Palaich & Associates (APA) and the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE). Dr. Kirwan has asked representatives from APA and NCEE to attend the meeting to discuss the methodology for costing out their proposed recommendations.

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 Councilmember 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, October 25, 2017; 9:30 am-5:00 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.

Montgomery Passes Legislation On Short-Term Rentals

Legislation Addresses Short-Term Rental Services Like Airbnb and HomeAway

The Montgomery County Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to enact two legislative proposals that address the legal and regulatory status of short-term rentals in the County. The two measures, Zoning Text Amendment 17-03 and Bill 2-16, represent Council Vice President Riemer’s and the Montgomery County Planning Board’s recommendations to balance the substantial economic potential for County residents of short-term residential services like Airbnb with concerns about regulating these services.

According to a press release:

ZTA 17-03 makes bed and breakfasts limited uses in most residential and mixed-use zones. It limits the total number of adult overnight guests in a short-term rental to six, limits the total number of adult overnight guests per bedroom to two, and requires one off-street parking space for each rental contract. These measures put in place a regulatory framework that did not exist before, addressing concerns about the potential for residential housing to be used exclusively as a short-term rental service.

ZTA 17-03 was approved with two revisions: (1) The dwelling unit used as a short-term rental must be the property owner’s or owner-authorized resident’s primary residence, which was an amendment recommended by the PHED Committee and (2) If the property owner or owner-authorized resident is not present in the residence, the property can be used as a short-term residential rental for a maximum of 120 days in a calendar year, which was an amendment recommended by Councilmember Katz.

The Council also enacted Bill 2-16, which requires that several conditions be met to receive short-term residential licensing. Bill 2-16 was introduced by Council Vice President Riemer and cosponsored by Councilmember Rice.

“By bringing all the stakeholders together, we were able to find a balance that works for us here in Montgomery County,” said Council Vice President Riemer. “This legislation will allow residents and visitors to get the value of home-sharing services, while preventing abuse and stopping investors from creating de facto hotels in residential neighborhoods and taking valuable housing stock off the market.”

Useful Links

Montgomery County Council Bill 2-16

Montgomery County Council Zoning Text Amendment 17-03

Baltimore County Takes Leadership Role In Jobs Innovation Program

An innovative workforce initiative led by Baltimore County is drawing attention across the country. New data from a five-year program demonstrates that low-skilled job seekers can improve their employment potential and earnings through dynamic programs that go beyond the normal technical training.

According to a press release:

Accelerating Connections to Employment (ACE) incorporated employability training, financial literacy and computer literacy with occupational certification training to improve the marketability of job seekers.

ACE program participants included individuals with limited English proficiency and job seekers with low reading, writing and math skills.

“The ACE jobs innovation program has changed lives for job seekers who need a little extra support as they prepare for a new career. Baltimore County is proud to have lead the national team that clearly delivered results in getting people back to work in family-supporting jobs,” said Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.

Baltimore County led the multi-state ACE collaboration, funded through a $11.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor Workforce Innovation Fund.

In Baltimore County, the Department of Economic and Workforce Development delivered the local program in partnership with the Community College of Baltimore County.

An independent evaluation firm concluded that after graduating from the program, ACE participants worked more hours in a week, earned higher wages, and were more likely to achieve occupational credentials than those not participating in the program.

ACE served 1,258 low-skilled individuals in nine sites across four states: Maryland, Connecticut, Georgia and Texas. The individuals who received ACE services were randomly selected from a group of potential participants, ensuring that results were due to the impact of ACE services.

Baltimore County’s Department of Economic and Workforce Development administered the five-year initiative in five Maryland jurisdictions [Anne Arundel, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Upper Shore] and cities in three other states.

Read the full press release for more information.

Howard County Commission For Women Seeking New Candidates

Howard County is seeking applicants who are interested in serving on the Commission for Women. Two of the three new Board members will serve the remainder of five-year terms, both set to expire November 3, 2018.

According to a press release:

Established in 1980, the Commission is comprised of twelve members, including one student, and helps promote the economic, social and political equality of women in Howard County. The Commission publicizes services and activities of interest to women, promotes a positive image of women and recognizes their accomplishments, encourages the expansion of educational and employment opportunities for women, and sponsors workshops and seminars on issues specific to women.

To be eligible for consideration, candidates must be a Howard County resident, 18 years of age or older, have an interest in women’s equality and be able to attend the Commission’s meetings. The meetings are held the second Tuesday of each month from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. in the Gateway Building, 6751 Columbia Gateway Drive in Columbia.

Applicants should send a resume and a brief letter explaining why they want to serve on the Commission to: Howard County Government, Office of the County Executive, Attn: David Lee, 3430 Court House Drive, Ellicott City, MD 21043. The names of eligible applicants will be submitted to the County Executive for approval and then to the County Council for confirmation. The deadline to apply is Friday, November 10.

For more information about the Commission for Women, contact the Department of Community Resource and Services at 410.313.6400 or visit the Commission online.

Read the full press release for more information.

Board of Public Works Approves $23 Million In Rural Legacy Grants

The Board of Public Works unanimously adopted a Maryland Department of Natural Resources recommendation approving 17 Rural Legacy Program grants – totaling over $23 million. Funding from these grants will permanently protect over 6,500 acres of working farms, forests and open space in 18 counties.

According to a press release:

The projects include protecting productive farmland, natural habitat, scenic view sheds, shorelines, wetlands, and woodlands as well as cultural, historical, and natural resources.

Established in 1997, the Rural Legacy Program is designed to preserve large tracts of productive and valuable agricultural and forested lands that contain exceptional features. The program acts through local government or private land trust sponsors to purchase conservation easements from willing property owners in 31 locally-designated rural areas located in every county. To date, the program has permanently protected 91,398 acres.

Here is a listing of Rural Legacy Program grants (alphabetically by area):

Read the full press release for more information.

Prince George’s Program Offers Bachelor’s Degree For $10K Or Less

Through a groundbreaking partnership, Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS), Prince George’s Community College (PGCC) and University of Maryland University College (UMUC) are offering an affordable pathway to a bachelor’s degree for students in Prince George’sCounty, beginning with dual enrollment in high school. The 3D Scholars Program allows students to earn a bachelor’s degree for $10,000 or less.

According to a press release:

Scholarships allow eligible Prince George’s County public school students to earn dual credit at Prince George’s Community College (PGCC) and ultimately earn a bachelor’s degree from University of Maryland University College (UMUC) for $10,000 or less. For some students, the degree could be free.

We are so appreciative of the help of our higher education partners,” said PGCPS Chief Executive Officer Kevin Maxwell. “This innovative partnership will remove financial barriers and increase access to college and career preparation for more deserving students in Prince George’s County public schools.”

“This is a model of how higher education can be sustained and made affordable to all Maryland students. We are delighted to see such talented students taking advantage of the 3D Scholarship Program,” said President Charlene Dukes of Prince George’s Community College.

“The Prince George’s 3D Scholarship Program will provide students with an exceptional opportunity to complete high school diplomas, associate degrees, and baccalaureate degrees for a maximum cost of $10,000, right here in Prince George’s County. Prince George’s Community College is excited to be a part of a bold partnership with Prince George’s County Public Schools and University of Maryland University College. Students in the Prince George’s 3D Scholarship Program will begin an academic pathway that produces well-educated graduates, addresses college affordability, and supports a regional workforce. This program responds to the needs of our community, and we are proud to support such a unique opportunity.”

To qualify for the 3D Scholars program, students must be in the 11th grade, take a college placement test, write an essay, and have at least a 2.5 cumulative grade point average.

Read the full press release for more information.

Hogan Executive Order Calls For New Cybersecurity Plan

Governor Larry Hogan today issued an executive order Thursday directing his Office of Homeland Security to coordinate, improve, and implement an updated cybersecurity plan to ensure that Maryland is prepared to confront today’s cyber threats.

According to a press release:

The order lays out a collaborative process for the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security, led by Walter “Pete” Landon, to work with key state agencies, including the Department of Information Technology (DoIT), the Maryland Military Department, and the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), and to seek input and information from other branches of state and federal government, the private sector, and the academic community in order to analyze existing plans, share innovative new strategies, and determine the best cybersecurity practices for Maryland to adopt.

The new plan will also incorporate recommendations from the Maryland Cybersecurity Council and the Cyber Disruption Contingency Plan prepared by DoIT and MEMA in April 2017. Once implemented, it will improve the processes and procedures designed to shield state government from a broad array of virtual threats, and to manage and minimize the risk of any breach of government systems at a time where global cyber threats are on the rise.

The draft plan is expected to be delivered to Hogan by May 2018.

Read the full press release for more information.