ANNAPOLIS — The Kirwan Commission’s long-awaited education plan for Maryland schools has been delayed beyond next month’s legislative session, as two state officials sent a letter Wednesday asking for more time.
According to the letter from State Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch, there’s no need to rush to organize policies and present a funding formula before the 90-day General Assembly begins Jan. 9. In addition, the lawmakers want to convince Gov. Larry Hogan that making “generational changes are worth undertaking.”
“Given the breadth of the commission’s charge and the rigor and thoroughness with which the commission has addressed its charge, we understand that it is virtually impossible for the formulas to be completed in time for action during the 2019 legislative session,” Miller and Busch said in the letter. “The work of the commission is too important to rush through without something so critical as funding formulas that will ensure that the debate in the General Assembly is backed by the best data possible.”
Members of the group, formally called the Maryland Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, received the letter just before 4 p.m. Wednesday. Minutes after receiving the letter, the commission announced it had reduced its recommended estimate for education funding increases from $4.4 billion to $3.8 billion.
The state legislature created the 25-member commission two years ago to asses and possibly revise the state formula to distribute money for schools and enact new policies. The commission is led by William E. Kirwan, former chancellor of the University of Maryland system.
The commission seeks to approve final recommendations for a variety of proposals on early childhood education, governance and accountability, teacher preparedness and retention, college and career readiness and resources for at-risk students.
Several members expressed their disappointment after reading the letter, which requests the commission to delay its final report until next fall.
Kirwan said that means state lawmakers wouldn’t implement any proposed policies until 2020.
“We cannot continue to meet and have these wonderful committees … without moving on and letting us put policy in place,” said Delegate Maggie McIntosh of Baltimore City.
Sen. Paul Pinsky (D-District 22) of University Park said more questions arose in terms of funding. For instance, he said the proposal doesn’t address the maintenance of effort, which requires county government to provide money toward education.
“I am not happy,” he said. “We have to wait another year. We are frustrated. It’s very difficult to get our colleagues to vote on raising revenue if they don’t know what jurisdiction has to pay how much and how we’re going to find maintenance of effort.”