LocalWilliam J. Ford

Md. Group Works to Hammer Down Education Costs

ANNAPOLIS — The work group organized to provide recommendations on how to revamp and fund Maryland’s public education in the next 10 years received some estimated figures.

However, exactly how much the state and local governments would pay remains uncertain.

“What your task is to determine how that is split between the state and the county governments. As well as how it is incorporated into the formulas,” said Rachel Hise, who works for the state’s Department of Legislative Services.

Hise, also a staff member for the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future education commission, presented some estimated figures to the funding formula work group Thursday, Aug. 22. It’s estimated it could cost $3.8 million to expand pre-kindergarten, hire additional mental health providers and maintain other services and resources.

The most expensive proposal would be to increase teacher salaries by 10 percent, which may cost $2.8 billion through fiscal year 2030. If approved by state lawmakers, average annual salaries would increase from more than $40,000 to as much as $80,000.

Here’s a breakdown of estimates on other resources and programs until fiscal year 2030:

​• ​$999 million for “additional teacher time” such as collaboration and planning periods.
​•​ $729 million for pre-kindergarten expansion and $234 million to hire additional teachers for those students.
​•​ $927 million for special education.

Services such as health and behavior, teacher and administrator training and family support centers would be locally managed, but state-funded.

Members also dissected data on every county and Baltimore City’s maintenance of effort, which requires the same amount of per-pupil funding a local school board provided the previous year.

However, some officials have complained the process hurts jurisdictions based on the economy, lack of money and other factors.

Before the discussions began on any data, nearly 40 minutes were spent criticizing Gov. Larry Hogan for his assessment that the commission has presented “well-meaning but half-baked” proposals that may be too expensive.

David Brinkley, the governor’s secretary of budget and management, said Hogan has and remains a partner in improving public education. Brinkley said the governor’s remarks from a recent Maryland Association of Counties summer conference are from estimates of what it could cost to restructure the public school system — a 39 percent increase in the personal income tax, an 89 percent increase in the sales tax and a 535 percent increase in property taxes.

“I urge caution and my concern and a public that has certain false expectations,” said Brinkley, who serves on the commission and funding group. “No one has looked at the camera and said, ‘How will this be paid for?'”

Del. Maggie McIntosh (D-Baltimore City), who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, called Hogan’s comment “discouraging.”

“There is a great deal of hope in the work that we have done and we are committed to Maryland’s children moving forward,” she said.

William E. “Brit” Kirwan, who chairs the commission and funding work group, said Hogan shouldn’t disparage the group’s work approved by the legislature. In addition, he appointed members to both bodies.

“I ask, are you willing to accept the status quo knowing that 40 percent of our graduates being college- and career-ready?” Kirwan said. “I fully recognize there are very legitimate questions that need serious thought, including how the state and counties find the means to support the recommendations and the appropriate timeline for implementation. I want to respectfully urge the governor to work with us to achieve the best possible outcome for our children, instead of against them and our state’s future.”

The funding formula work group aims to present recommendations to the full 25-member commission by Nov. 1.

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William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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