Maryland panel recommends new $4B school funding formula
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — A Maryland panel voted Tuesday to recommend updating the state’s education funding formula to phase in a major increase for schools that will reach $4 billion annually a decade from now for K-12.
Under the proposal, the state would contribute about $2.8 billion and local governments would contribute $1.2 billion in fiscal year 2030.
The proposal, which would affect local jurisdictions in a wide variety of ways, will now go to a state commission, which will make recommendations to state lawmakers for the next legislative session in January.
Although funding would gradually increase over 10 years, supporters say money would start flowing immediately under the plan.
William “Brit” Kirwan, who chairs the state commission, said the recommendations take a “critically important step toward addressing the funding inequities presently existing in our state, based on income, race and ethnicities.”
“The recommendations provide additional state support for the less wealthy counties that have limited additional taxing capacity,” Kirwan said. “This is an important and significant innovation in our state’s education funding. They provide a smoother, phased-in timeline that will significantly improve the state’s ability to meet the additional costs,”
Maryland last updated its school funding formula in 2002. The commission has been working on policy measures that supporters say are aimed at making Maryland’s public schools among the best in the world.
They include investing in early childhood education and increasing teacher pay. They also include implementing rigorous curricula, providing more support to struggling schools and children who live in poverty and creating accountability for underperformance.
Gov. Larry Hogan said the proposal may be “well-meaning,” but he criticized the plan for failing to identify a funding source. The Republican governor contends that will lead to huge tax increases he has vowed to oppose.
“Unfortunately, the Kirwan Tax Hike Commission is hellbent on spending billions more than we can afford, and legislators are refusing to come clean about where the money is going to come from,” Hogan said in a statement.
The proposal would challenge some local jurisdictions to pay more than they are accustomed to in support of their schools.
For example, the city of Baltimore would be required to pay $329 million more in a decade, and Prince George’s County would face added costs of $361 million. However, those jurisdictions would get much more in state support: about $503 million for Baltimore and $571 million for Prince George’s.
Del. Maggie McIntosh, a Baltimore Democrat who chairs the House Appropriations Committee and served on the funding work group, said she was meeting with Kirwan and philanthropic groups this week to discuss potential financial support from foundations.
“The philanthropic community may find pieces of this that they can help with our local schools,” McIntosh said.
Some counties would not be required to pay more than they already do.
Howard County, for example, has spent more to support education than required under state law and would not have to pay more. Other smaller counties also would not have to pay more, including Allegany, Calvert, Carroll, Charles, Queen Anne’s, St. Mary’s and Somerset.
Other counties would pay more, while receiving substantially larger amounts from the state. For example, Frederick County pay about $6 million more, while receiving $114 million more from the state in 2030. Wicomico County on Maryland’s Eastern Shore would pay about $9 million more and get about $74 million from the state.
Montgomery County, the state’s most populous jurisdiction, would pay $263 million more in fiscal year 2030, and get $235 million from the state. Talbot County would pay $21.5 million more and receive $5.3 million more from the state.
Barry Glassman, who is the Harford County executive and president of the Maryland Association of Counties who served on the work group, noted the widely different ways various counties would be affected.
“I have no reasonable abilities to synthesize a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on behalf of Maryland’s many counties, who are obviously affected dramatically in different ways by the week-old draft projections, and clearly there are winners and losers,” Glassman said.