December 17, 2017

Archives for January 2016

PreK Funding Bills Update

 

House Bill 1433 and Senate Bill 461 have not moved, and are not expected to, but the revised fiscal estimate provided to the bill sponsors clearly demonstrates the unmet funding needs of providing mandated prekindergarten, and the corresponding costs to local governments and the state to fulfill a true per pupil amount of funding for these students. The Department of Legislative Services (DLS) analysis reflects amendments drafted to the bill to include the state and local shares of the per pupil share of the foundation amount, and the additional per pupil funding provided under the compensatory education funding formula. This approach yields over $85 million in additional state aid and $43 million in local aid.  MABE believes the work to introduce and air this legislation will play a significant role as the General Assembly considers the recommendations of the adequacy study and long-term reforms developed by the Funding Commission. 


3-14-16 – MABE encourages all local boards to contact legislators to voice SUPPORT for SB 461 (which was heard on February 24th) – Use these links to the Budget & Taxation Committee; and the B&T Committee Roster; and to  voice SUPPORT for HB 1433 (which was heard on March 7th) – Use these links to the Ways and Means Committee; and the W&M Committee Roster.

MABE Supports SB 461 and HB 1433 to Provide Full, Accurate, and Transparent Funding for Prekindergarten

  • Since the passage of the Bridge to Excellence Act of 2002, local school systems have been providing half-day prekindergarten for all eligible four-year olds – approximately 30,000 students per year.
  • Maryland’s nationally recognized school finance system is built on per pupil funding.
  • However, prekindergarten students are NOT included in the annual September 30 enrollment counts for State and local education aid.
  • By not counting approximately 30,000 students as enrolled, the state funding laws that provide per pupil state and local funding for all students are not triggered. 
  • Many school systems also provide a significant amount of full-day prekindergarten to these eligible students. Under this bill, providing full-day prekindergarten would remain entirely at the discretion of the local board – but when it’s provided it would be fully funded.
  • Mandated prekindergarten benefits our most vulnerable economically disadvantaged children and local efforts to serve these students should receive the full benefit of the education funding formulas that apply to all other students.   
  • Passage of Senate Bill 461 and House Bill 1433 is needed to guarantee that full, accurate and transparent per pupil funding is provided to support high quality prekindergarten programs.

Again, MABE encourages all local boards to contact legislators, submit testimony and be represented at these bill hearings. To voice SUPPORT for SB 461 (which is being heard on 2/24) – use these links to the Budget & Taxation Committee; and the B&T Committee Roster; and to  voice SUPPORT for HB 1433 (which is being heard on 3/7) – use these links to the Ways and Means Committee; and the W&M Committee Roster.

2-18-16: MABE is extremely pleased that legislation (Senate Bill 461 and House Bill 1433) has been introduced to fully fund prekindergarten by establishing a true per pupil funding amount based on enrollment of the four-year olds we are mandated to serve.  Hearings are set for February 14 and March 7. MABE encourages all local boards to contact legislators, submit testimony and be represented at these bill hearings. 

MABE strongly supports passing legislation in 2016 to remedy the longstanding deficiency in funding provided to local school systems for prekindergarten, by including prekindergarten students in local school system enrollment counts for purposes of state and local funding formulas. MABE thanks and Delegate Alonzo Washington for sponsoring House Bill 1433. 

Senator Joan Carter Conway is the lead sponsor of Senate Bill 461. The hearing in the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee will be held on February 24, beginning at 1:00 p.m.

Delegate Alonzo Washington is the lead sponsor of House Bill 1433. The hearing in the House Ways and Means Committee will be held on March 7, beginning at 1:00 p.m.

Again, MABE encourages all local boards to contact legislators, submit testimony and be represented at these bill hearings. 

Under current law, all children who are four years old on September 1 of that school year, who are eligible for free and reduced-price meals (FRPM) (i.e., from families whose income is at or below 185% of federal poverty guidelines (FPG)), and whose parent or guardian seeks to enroll the child in a public prekindergarten program, must be admitted free of charge to publicly funded prekindergarten programs established by each of the local boards of education.

State regulations require local school systems to provide prekindergarten for a minimum of 2.5 hours per day using certified early education teachers. Many school systems also provide a significant amount of full-day prekindergarten to these eligible students. Providing full-day prekindergarten is entirely at the discretion of the local board.

However, prekindergarten students are not included in the annual September 30 enrollment counts for State education aid. By not counting approximately 30,000 students as enrolled, the state funding laws that provide per pupil state and local funding for all students are not triggered.   

The proposed legislation is simple and straightforward. It would add an enrollment count for half-day prekindergarten students at a “full time equivalent” (FTE) rate of 50% to align the amount of mandated per pupil funding with the half-day scope of mandated prekindergarten programs. Systems providing full-day prekindergarten programs would appropriately report those students at the 100% FTE rate. In this way, Maryland’s education funding law would include prekindergarten students as enrolled and guarantee transparent per pupil funding for the high quality prekindergarten programs offered in each of our 24 local school systems.

For more information on this MABE initiative bill, contact MABE’s Director of Governmental Relations, John R. Woolums, Esq., at jwoolums@mabe.org or 410-841-5414.


Assessment Commission Briefings – Feb. 10, 2016

On February 8, MABE, PSSAM, Maryland PTA, and the Baltimore Teachers Union (BTU) addressed the Maryland Commission on Assessments. Joy Schaefer, MABE’s legislative committee chair and executive committee member, shared with the commission MABE’s position in favor of maintaining local board flexibility and discretion to adopt assessment policies and practices without the burden of an arbitrary cap on the amount of time spent on testing. MABE’s testimony stated MABE’s opposition to the pending legislation, House Bill 141, which would require the State Board of Education to “adopt regulations that limit the amount of time in the aggregate that may be devoted to federal, state, and locally mandated tests for each grade to 2% of the minimum required annual instructional hours.”

The PSSAM presentation featured Frederick County Superintendent Terry Alban and Caroline County Superintendent John Ewald, who were each joined by teachers and principals. These presentations provided the commission with detailed explanations of policies and programs being implemented to optimize the use of formative assessments to benefit student learning. Again, a strong case was made for allowing local school systems to determine which assessment tools and strategies are most appropriate in a given content area, grade band, school, and to address specific student needs. The teachers speaking on behalf of BTU voiced strong concerns about the use of assessments to measure student and school performance which are not available to teachers as formative instructional tools.

Elizabeth Ysla Leight, President of the Maryland PTA, shared the national and Maryland PTA positions opposing parental opt out from state assessments; and in favor of assessments which are designed to be culturally and linguistically appropriate for all students including English language learners. She stressed the need for more outreach and communication with parents who are speakers of other languages.       

Later in the meeting, Commission member Julie Hummer, who is a member of the Anne Arundel County Board of Education, raised questions and concerns about the content, and lack of definitions and clarity, in the pending legislation to impose a cap on testing. Similarly, commission member Larry Bowers, acting superintendent of Montgomery County’s school system, voiced his concerns with the timing of legislation being introduced to dictate assessment policy and the  timeline for the commission to finish its work, which also comes from the legislature. 

At the conclusion of the meeting, commission chairman Chris Berry, a Montgomery County principal, announced his decision to form subcommittees to further explore respective areas of inquiry including testing logistics, testing at elementary and secondary school levels, and assessment issues pertaining to students with special needs. The commission’s next meeting is on March 7, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., in the Howard County Public Schools Board Office, in Board Room B.

For more information, MSDE maintains a webpage on the Commission to Review Maryland's Use of Assessments in Public Schools which includes all meeting materials and other information and resources.

For more information on the current legislative session, see the latest GreenSheet Legislative Update. 


Education Budget Highlights – January 25, 2016

On January 20, the Governor released his proposed State Budget for FY 2017, including the significant segment of the budget devoted to operating and capital funding for public schools. The Governor’s proposed budget for FY 2017 includes full funding for PreK-12 public elementary and secondary education, including the newly mandated Geographic Cost of Education Index.  

“Included in this budget, for the second straight year, is a record level of funding going toward the education of our children. We are putting $6.3 billion into K-12 education, which is about $140 million more than last year. We are fully funding education aid, including the Geographic Cost of Education Index. Our commitment to education does not end there. We are also putting forward $314 million for school construction, and we are allocating resources for important programs like P-Tech.”

       –Governor’s FY 2017 Budget Highlights

The Governor’s Budget Highlights is available on the Department of Budget and Management’s (DBM) website. The General Assembly will consider the Governor’s operating budget as Senate Bill 190, and capital budget as Senate Bill 191. MABE looks forward to testifying in support of the Governor’s budget proposal to fully funding of public education in the 2016-2017 school year.

For more details, please access MABE's GreenSheet Legislative Update of Feb. 10, 2016. 


Call to Action: MABE Opposes Student Diabestes Management Bill (SB 71) – Jan. 18, 2016

Senate Bill 71 is a bill warranting our staunch opposition again this year. This bill would mandate that school systems train volunteers (teachers, aides, principals, and other full and part-time employees) to become “trained diabetes care providers” responsible for administering health care services, including administering oral and injectable medications, to students.   

MABE urges local boards and board members to contact the bill sponsor, Senator Ron Young, and other members of the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee to voice opposition to this legislation. 

Talking Points

Read MABE’s testimony, and contact your senator, Senator Young, and Senators on the EHEA Committee to let them know that MABE and local boards oppose Senate Bill 71 because:

  • Local boards are committed to a high standard of care for students with diabetes.
  • SB 71 is a move in the wrong direction – health care provided in school for students with diabetes should be in the hands of the school nurse who is a medical professional trained to follow the prescriptions and plan provided by the student’s doctor.
  • SB 71 would bypass the school nurse’s license and professional oversight responsibility, and instead require school systems to train non-medical staff (such as teachers, aides, and principals) to administer oral and injectable medicine to students with diabetes.  
  • SB 71 is not needed because existing federal and state laws already prohibit discrimination against students with diabetes.
  • SB 71 is not needed because state guidance is being updated in 2016 and will include best practices and address many of the concerns raised by supporters of this bill.

Background on Senate Bill 71

This bill is a national legislative priority of the American Diabetes Association and it passed the Senate in 2015 (as SB 672), but was not acted on by the House Ways and Means Committee. During the interim, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) and MSDE held meetings and a day-long symposium on the law and state and local policies and procedures regarding meeting the health and educational needs of students with diabetes. Following these meetings, work has begun to update the Maryland State School Health Services Guideline, “Management of Students with Diabetes Mellitus in Schools,” last updated in 2006. 

MABE strongly believes that the ongoing work by doctors, school nurses, and DHMH and MSDE staff has confirmed the need to continuously improve the manner in which health services are provided to students with diabetes. Another area for improvement is communication within school systems and school buildings and with parents. At the same time, this work in no way demonstrates the need to diminish the professional role of school nurses or certified medical technicians working under the school nurse’s license. Therefore, MABE continues to oppose legislation which would bypass the school nurse’s license and oversight responsibility and instead have school systems train non-medical staff to administer oral and injectable medicine to students with diabetes.   


MABE Releases Position Paper on Maryland Education Funding – Jan. 12, 2016

As a part of our continuing effort to track the ongoing Study of Adequacy of Funding for Education in Maryland, and to fully inform our members, MABE has released a position paper entitled:

Priorities and Perspectives on the Future of Public School Funding in Maryland

This position paper provides background information, in-depth analysis, and an overview of local board perspectives on the ongoing adequacy study. 

Background:

The passage of the 2002 Bridge to Excellence Act, and the subsequent increase of more than $1.3 billion in state aid to education, was founded on the adequacy study conducted from 1999 through 2001 by the consulting firm, Augenblick and Myers. The 2002 law called for a follow up study of the adequacy of education funding in the State to be undertaken approximately 10 years after its enactment, and amended to specifically require a study commencing in 2014. Augenblick, Palaich, and Associates was awarded the $1.05 million state contract to conduct a comprehensive up-to-date adequacy study. 

The new adequacy study has been underway with a stakeholder workgroup, including MABE representatives, guiding and monitoring this important work. 

Because this study will have significant implications for all Maryland school systems, MABE created an ad hoc committee to track, discuss, and keep our members informed.

Priorities and Perspectives on the Future of Public School Funding in Maryland provides an overview and highlight of local board perspectives on the ongoing adequacy study and the future of public school funding in Maryland. 

For more information, visit Priority Positions: Adequacy Funding.


What Does ESSA Mean for Your School System? – Jan. 6, 2016

The signing of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is an historic milestone for America's school boards.

On December 18, 2015, the U.S. Department of Education issued this "Dear Colleague" letter to state leaders throughout the United States outlining the process of transition to the Every Student Succeeds Act. On December 10, 2015, President Barack Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act into law. The signing represents a significant move forward for local governance and NSBA stands committed to working with and through our State Associations for ESSA’s implementation in support of equity and excellence in public education.

For more information, background, and resources, visit NSBA's Federal Priorities webpage.


Every Student Succeeds Act Signed Into Law – Dec. 10, 2015

MABE is pleased that President Obama has signed a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, known as the Every Student Succeeds Act (S.1177). This legislation is the long awaited and overdue update to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

MABE believes the new federal education law strikes a balance between defining federal goals for student learning and providing states and local boards more flexibility in key areas such as testing and accountability. The new law continues to require challenging academic standards and annual statewide assessments for elementary, middle and high school students in mathematics, reading or language arts, and science. 

MABE President Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Warner I. Sumpter stated, “The Every Student Succeeds Act is a great improvement over the No Child Left Behind Act. Now local boards can move forward to spend federal dollars in ways that make sense for Maryland, our communities, and most importantly our students.”   (more)