December 17, 2017

Priority Issue: Prekindergarten Funding

PreKindergarten Funding Legislative Initiative 

During the 2016 legislative session MABE encouraged all local boards to contact legislators to voice support for SB 461  and HB 1433. MABE greatly appreciates the lead sponsorship of Senator Joan Carter Conway for SB 461; and Delegate Alonzo Washington for HB 1433.

House Bill 1433 and Senate Bill 461 did not pass, 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 original 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 additional 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. 

MABE supported SB 461 and HB 1433 in order to provide full, accurate, and transparent funding for prekindergarten

Pertinent Points:

  • 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 would guarantee that full, accurate and transparent per pupil funding is provided to support high quality prekindergarten programs.

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