UPDATE APRIL 6, 2013:
The House Ways and Means Committee voted yesterday afternoon to concur with the Senate amendments to House Bill 1107. Only Delegates Frick and George voted against the concurrence, and Delegate Luedtke abstained. No amendments were presented by members or discussed in either the education subcommittee or full committee. In this context, the full House is expected to vote today to concur, and the bill will be approved for the Governor's signature.
The bill that has now passed in the Senate and been concurred to by the House Ways and Means Committee will allow the Prince George's County government to have an unprecedented role in selecting the school system's superintendent and 4 members of the board of education. See below for a detailed description of the provisions of the bill.
Board members are encouraged to continue to contact their delegates today in opposition to this bill.
UPDATE APRIL 5, 2013: MABE urges the House to not concur with the Senate version of House Bill 1107, which passed last night at 7:30 and is now pending in the House Ways and Means Committee
The bill has passed the Senate to allow the Prince George's County government to have an unprecedented role in selecting the school system's superintendent and 4 members of the board of education.
House Bill 1107, as passed by the Senate on April 4, 2013, would:
- Add 3 members appointed by the County Executive (AMENDMENT: Increased from 2 to 3);
- Add 1 member appointed by the County Council (AMENDMENT: Reduced from 2 to 1);
- Allow the County Executive to select the Chair and Vice-Chair of the board (AMENDMENT: Vice-Chair must be chosen from elected board members);
- Allow the County Executive to fill any vacancies on the board;
- Require a two-thirds vote of the board to take any action contrary to an action of the CEO (superintendent); (AMENDMENT: Two-thirds vote rule does not apply to personnel actions or appeals from personnel actions);
- Create a search committee for the next CEO that does not include any board members;
- Allow the County Executive to select the next CEO based on the 3 finalists recommended by the search committee; and
- Allow the CEO to hire and set salaries for a chief operating officer, chief finance officer, chief academic officer, chief of staff, board liaison, and any other necessary executive staff.
MABE continues to oppose this legislation because it would:
- Eliminate the ability of a local board of education to hire its own superintendent;
- Allow the County Executive to select board leadership; and
- Create an inappropriate so-called "hybrid" board that includes members appointed by the local government and local funding authority – creating an unprecedented conflict of interest in the context of budget negotiations and other issues.
MABE would strongly prefer, in the alternative, a "hybrid" board that includes members appointed by the Governor and locally elected (as in Harford and Caroline Counties) or a board of members jointly selected by the Mayor and Governor from a list of candidates selected by the State Board of Education (as in Baltimore City). Instead, the Prince George's County Executive and Council would be allowed to select 4 members of the board, and the County Executive would select the Chair and Vice-Chair.
In addition, MABE supports amendments to provide the board a role in, at the very least, selecting finalists for the position of CEO; and an amendment to allow the board members to elect their own officers, rather than being selected by the County Executive.
Click here to read the Senate-amendments that were adopted on the Senate-passed version of House Bill 1107.
The House Ways and Means Committee could vote at any time on House Bill 1107.
MABE encourages all board members to contact their Delegates immediately to voice strong opposition to House Bill 1107 as passed by the Senate – for the reasons outlined above. Also contact the the Ways and Means Committee directly by calling: (410) 841-3469.
UPDATE APRIL 2, 2013: MABE Opposes County Takeover of Prince George’s School Board and Superintendent
The Prince George's County Senators are proposing yet another plan to restructure the board of education and office of the superintendent - and this plan proposes even more county government intrusion into the selection of board members, officers of the board, and the superintendent, than previous plans.
The latest proposal is in the form of amendments to House Bill 1107, the bill passed by the House to create a task force to evaluate best practices for school board operations in Prince George's County.
The amendments to House Bill 1107 would grant the county government unprecedented control of the board of education.
Specifically, MABE opposes the proposal because it would::
- add 2 members appointed by the County Executive;
- add 2 members appointed by the County Council;
- allow the County Executive to select the Chair and Vice Chair of the board;
- allow the County Executive to fill any vacancies on the board;
- require a two-thirds vote of the board to take any action contrary to an action of the CEO (superintendent);
- create a search committee for the next CEO that does not include any board members;
- allow the County Executive to select the next CEO based on the 3 finalists recommended by the search committee; and
- allow the CEO to hire and set salaries for a chief operating officer, chief finance officer, chief academic officer, chief of staff, board liaison, and any other necessary executive staff.
MABE objects to this proposal because it would:
- eliminate the ability of a local board of education to hire its own superintendent;
- create an inappropriate "hybrid" board that is not a board including members appointed by the Governor and locally elected (as in Harford and Caroline Counties) or a board of members jointly selected by the Mayor and Governor from a list of candidates selected by the State Board of Education (as in Baltimore City). Instead, the Prince George's County Executive and Council would be allowed to select 4 members of the board.
Click here for an outline of latest plan and a complete set of proposed amendments to House Bill 1107.
The Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee could vote at any time on House Bill 1107. MABE encourages all board member to contact their local senators immediately to voice strong opposition to the amendments described above.
UPDATE: MARCH 26, 2013: MABE Opposes County Takeover of Prince George’s School Board and Superintendent
Now Introduced as Senate Bill 1071
The Prince George's County Senators have introduced Senate Bill 1071, entitled the "Academic Revitalization and Management Effectiveness Initiative" for the Prince George's County School System.
Senate Bill 1071 is substantially similar to the amendments to House Bill 1107 which MABE opposed when circulated in the House last week; and the subject of the Prince George’s Delegation meeting on Saturday, March 23 at which Board Chair Verjeana Jacobs presented a statement and packet of materials opposing the County Government's proposed takeover.
MABE opposes Senate Bill 1071 because its primary goal is to shift budget authority and employment of the local Superintendent away from the local Board of Education to the county government.
Senate Bill 1071 is a 25-page bill to restructure the Prince George’s County school system, Board of Education and office of the Superintendent. The bill would consolidate authority in the new office of CEO of the Prince George’s County school system and limit the authority of the Board of Education by:
Making the CEO of the school system a cabinet-level appointee and at-will employee serving at the pleasure of the County Executive;
Allowing the CEO, as an employee of the County Executive, to:
Prepare the school system’s annual budget; and
Prepare curriculum guides, courses of study, and lists of textbooks and other instructional materials;
Granting the CEO the sole authority to set attendance areas and consolidate schools; and
Making the CEO responsible for the management and oversight of all school system operations (administration, instructional salaries, special education, transportation, food services, etc.)
Granting the County Executive’s one appointed member of the Board veto power over Board actions (see below).
Senate Bill 1071 would severely limit the authority of the Board of Education by:
Granting the Board of Education very limited policy making powers focused on improving student achievement and community engagement;
Making the Board of Education “responsible” for the academic achievement of the students, and responsible for providing effective curriculum, instructional, and assessment programs;
Prohibiting the Board of Education from implementing any policy or taking any action contrary to the CEO’s management and oversight actions unless the Board has a two-thirds majority that must include the vote of the County Executive’s appointee. This allows for a one-member veto of Board of Education action.
Senate Bill 1071 would restructure the Board of Education by:
Converting the elected board to a hybrid board of the current 9 elected member and student board member, by adding 1 voting member appointed by the county council and 1 voting member appointed by the county executive;
Adding ex officio members, including the President of the Prince George’s County PTA, and 3 members appointed by the Presidents of the University of Maryland, Bowie State, and Prince George’s Community College.
Again, MABE opposes Senate Bill 1071 because its primary goal is to shift budget authority and employment of the local Superintendent away from the local Board of Education to the county government.
The bill hearing on Senate Bill 1071 is scheduled for 1:00 this Friday, March 29, in the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee.
Call to Action – Urge your Senators and Delegates to oppose Senate Bill 1071, because it would:
Limit the Board of Education to a policy making role;
Give school system budget and oversight control to the county government; and
Make the superintendent an at-will employee of the county government.
The General Assembly should reject this school system takeover and:
Not allow a county government to have total control over not only the county funding but also the state funding for public education;
Not allow a county government to employ the superintendent who is responsible for requesting adequate funding from the county government; and
Not allow the total restructuring of a local school system without the type of comprehensive study proposed by House Bill 1107. (Note – House Bill 1107 passed the House and remains available to the Senate as a bill to create a "Task Force to Evaluate Best Practices for School Board Operation in Prince George's County."
MABE urges all boards and board members in Maryland to immediately contact their legislators, Senators and Delegates, to oppose a county government takeover of the Prince George's County Board of Education and office of the superintendent. There is grave concern that Senate Bill 1071 will pass the Senate and soon be before the House. So contacting Delegates now is timely.
Update, March 23, 2013 – This morning the Prince George’s County House and Senate delegations held a hearing at which County Executive Rushern Baker and Boar,d of Education Chair Verjeana Jacobs presented their cases for and against the proposed restructuring of the school system. MABE provided each member of the delegation a statement of opposition in advance of the hearing, and MABE’s Executive Director Francie Glendening and Director of Governmental Relations John Woolums were in attendance.
The subject of the hearing was the set of amendments proposed by the County Executive, which includes the proposals opposed in the previous Call to Action. In short, County Executive Baker raised the concern that the school system is making progress, but not fast enough, and therefore he is seeking a more aligned, integrated government approach, by having the superintendent report directly to the County Executive rather than the nine-member board of education. He stated that, “If you have nine people responsible, you don’t have anyone responsible.” Ms. Jacobs responded by articulating three “process, policy, and precedent” reasons for opposing the plan. She criticized the process of introducing this proposal so late in session, providing insufficient time for public input. She objected to policy of placing the superintendent under the local government’s control, while holding the school board accountable for student performance without providing any control over the operation of the school system through the direction of the superintendent. She emphasized that all statewide education organizations are opposing this initiative for the reasons she articulated, and because of the precedent-setting concern that other boards could become victims of similar proposals.
Most recently, MABE has learned that separate legislation will be introduced in the Senate on Monday. As soon as it is available, MABE will summarize and share revised talking points. MABE knows the Senate bill will address some of the concerns raised by the initial set of amendments, but it will continue to propose to shift the employment, direction and control of the office of the superintendent from the board of education to the county government.
In the past week, a bill to create a task force to study the Prince George’s County school system (House Bill 1107) has become the vehicle, potentially, for more than 40 pages of amendments to restructure the local school system. The House did not act on these amendments before passing House Bill 1107, and now a separate bill will be introduced in the Senate on Monday.
However, the primary goal of these amendments and the separate bill is the same – to shift the employment of the local superintendent away from the local board of education to the county government, as an “at will” member of the County Executive’s cabinet.
Call to Action - Urge your Senators and Delegates to oppose legislation which would:
· Limit the Board of Education’s governance and policy making role;
· Shift school system budget control to the county government; and
· Make the superintendent an “at will” employee of the county government.
The General Assembly should reject school system takeover legislation and:
· Not allow a county government to have total control over not only the county funding but also the state funding for public education;
· Not allow a county government to employ the superintendent who is responsible for requesting adequate funding from the county government; and
· Not allow the total restructuring of a local school system without any opportunity for local input through public meetings and opportunities for public comments.
The good news is that the House did not consider amendments to restructure the entire Prince George’s County Board of Education and office of the superintendent. House Bill 1107 has passed the House, and remains a bill to create a “Task Force to Evaluate Best Practices for School Board Operation in Prince George’s County.”
The bad news is that the takeover amendments are fully expected to be offered in the Senate as a separate bill. As soon as it is available, MABE will summarize and share revised talking points. For now, the document providing the county’s proposal is available as the set of amendments to House Bill 1107, which is now pending in the Senate.
Again, MABE urges all boards and board members in Maryland to immediately contact their legislators, Senators and Delegates, to oppose a county government takeover of the Prince George’s County Board of Education and office of the superintendent. There is grave concern that legislation will be adopted in the Senate, resulting in the House having to act on the bill in the last days of session.
Link to more than 50 pages of amendments drafted, but not introduced in the House, to amend House Bill 1107 to restructure the Prince George's County school system.
MABE has adopted legislative priorities and positions for the 2013 legislative session, and has prioritized advocacy for major revisions to the student discipline regulations proposed by the State Board of Education, and has called for congressional action to avoid across-the-board cuts in federal education funding.
Call to Action – Stop Sequestration!
Long-Term Student Discipline & Related Educational Services
MABE Urges Revisions to the State Board's Proposed Student Discipline Regulations
On November 30, 2012 MABE submitted comments to the State Superintendent, Dr. Lillian Lowery, and President of the State Board of Education, Dr. Charlene Dukes, on the proposal to dramatically revise state regulations on student discipline. MABE's comments are consistent with fully supporting the State Board's intent to fortify Maryland regulations governing local student discipline policies to ensure school safety, the fair administration of student discipline, and uninterrupted student learning. MABE drafted two versions (Version I and II) of amendments for the State Board’s consideration and, in both versions, MABE supports retaining the State Board’s expansion of the purposes of local student discipline.
Therefore, MABE endorses:
- Prohibiting “zero tolerance” policies;
- Reflecting a philosophy that fosters positive behavior;
- Providing continuous education services to all suspended and expelled students; and
- Holding school systems accountable for reducing and eliminating disproportionate impacts of student discipline policies on minority students.
However, MABE submitted, as Version I, a set of amendments consistent with the belief that many of the changes proposed by the State Board in sections B through E of COMAR 13A.08.01.11 exceed the State Board’s legal authority.
MABE has been actively engaged for several years in the State Board's inquiry into the need for policy reforms relating to long-term suspended and expelled students. The State Board issued a legal opinion in October 2009, Atanya C. v. Dorchester County Board of Education, in which it expressed its concerns about the lack of educational services for students removed from the school setting due to long-term disciplinary actions. Following that decision, the State Board surveyed local school system policies and practices, convened panel presentations from educators and advocacy organizations, and issued preliminary and final reports on their findings.
The outcomes of this process to date include significant changes to the procedures used to collect student discipline data according to the Maryland Student Records Manual. In addition, the State Board is proposing comprehensive changes to state regulations to adopt new definitions, criteria and timelines pertaining to short- and long-term suspensions, extended suspensions, and expulsions. The proposed regulations would also require the monitoring and reduction of any disproportionate or discrepant impact of discipline decisions on minority or special education students.
MABE has written to State Board President, Dr. Charlene Dukes, and State Superintendent, Dr. Lillian Lowery, to request that they reconsider and revise the proposed regulations to reflect the input of local school systems gained through a true dialogue with local educators and policy makers to consider ways that the discipline process can be improved without jeopardizing the education and the safety of the vast majority of students and the dedicated professionals that serve them.
The following materials are presented in reverse chronological order:
- MABE Letter to State Superintendent Lillian Lowery and State Board of Education President Charlene Dukes to urge the reconsideration and major revisions to the proposed changes to teh regulations and procedures applying to student suspensions and expulsions (September 20, 2012). This letter encloses MABE's previous correspondence and comments from 2010, 2011, and 2012.
- State Board Approved Regulations for Publication and Public Comment (Approved for publication on July 24, 2012; publication in the Maryland Register is expected in October, 2012)
- State Board Final Report on Student Discipline (Approved on July 24, 2012)
- State Board Decision Document, including summarized public comments (June 20, 2012)
- MABE letter to the State Board (March 28, 2012)
- State Board Draft Report and Proposed Regulations (February 2012)
- State Board Meeting Panel Presentations (August 30, 2011): - MABE Testimony - PSSAM Testimony - Montgomery County School System Testimony
- State Board Letter Requesting MABE Presentation on August 30, 2011, (July 20, 2011)
- MABE Letter to the State Board Commenting on the Guidelines, (June 10, 2011)
- Proposed Guidelines for the Timely Disposition of Long-Term Discipline Cases (State Board, April 26, 2011)
- MSDE Report to the State Board on the Provision of Education Services to Long-Term Suspended and Expelled Students(August 2010)
- MABE Testimony before the State Board (April 27, 2010)
- State Board Memo and Survey (April 27, 2010)
- State Board Invitation to MABE to Testify (April 1, 2010)
- C., Atanya v. Dorchester County Board of Education (Decision in which the State Board announced its intention to conduct an inquiry into the provision of education services for students in long-term discipline cases) (October 2009)
2012 Session and FY 2013 Budget
2012 Session Summary (as of May 25, 2012), including Appendix I providing a summary of the Maintenance of Effort legislation and MSDE's guidance, and Appendix II providing a detailed summary of the Teachers Retirement Cost Shift.
The General Assembly enacted the FY 2013 Budget Bill (SB 150) without enacting either the Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act (SB 152, the BRFA) or the revenue bill including state and local tax increases (SB 523). The immediate outcome of these actions and inactions is the triggering of the "doomsday" budget cuts included in the Budget Bill contingent on the failure of either the BRFA or revenue bill.
Given the magnitude of these potential cuts, including $128.8 million in Geographic Cost of Education Index (GCEI) funding, there was every expectation that the Governor would convene a Special Session to rectify the State's budget and allow time – well in advance of the July 1, 2012 start date for FY 2013 - for local governments and school boards to adopt local budgets reflecting the adjusted State budget. However, opponents of Special Session reiterated positions taken in regular session in opposition to the shift of teacher retirement costs and/or tax increases. In this context, MABE wrote to the Governor and presiding officers of the House and Senate to emphasize the need to restore GCEI funding.
As expected, the Governor convened a Special Session in May in order to pass the Budget Reconcilaition and Financing Act (The BRFA, SB 152) and the revenue bill (SB 523). Both bills were deliberated in conference commitees, with amendments developed that are available online. The BRFA was reintroduced in Special Session as SB 1301, and the revenue bill was reintroduced as SB 1302.
MABE's Legislative Committee Chair, Bob Heck, and Director of Governmental Relations, John Woolums, delivered testimony in both the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee and House Appropriations Committee on Monday, May 14. to share our strong support for legislative action to restore the $128.8 million in GCEI funding,
O'Malley Administration Testimony in Support of the BRFA and Revenue Legislation in Special Session (May 14, 2012)
Bills Pending in Special Session & MABE Positions:
HB 1303/SB 1803 - Creation of a State Debt – Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (Support)
(Note: this bill passed during the regular session as SB 153, but due to a "technicality" regarding the timing of passing this type of appropriations bill, it was necessary to reintroduce and pass it in conjunction with the BRFA.)
Maintenance of Effort Legislation Enacted in 2012
April 10, 2012 – Governor O'Malley signed historic Maintenance of Effort legislation into law!
- Senate Bill 848 (Bill Text, Fiscal and Policy Note)
- MSDE Guidance on 2012 MOE waiver requests in accordance with recently enacted SB 848.
MABE’s top legislative priority in 2012 was to support legislation to reform the maintenance of effort law to provide:
- Accountability: Making maintenance of effort the local funding floor, with a mandated waiver process to prevent counties from unilaterally rebasing at lower funding levels;
- Flexibility: Improving and expanding the State Board of Education’s waiver process;
- Fairness: Making the penalty for a county not meeting maintenance of effort without a waiver apply to the county, rather than the school system;
- Predictability: Providing a reasonable expectation for school board budgets (for students, parents, and school employees), and to prevent re-basing of the funding floor from year to year;
- Transparency: Guaranteeing an open process by which counties must, at the very least, explain their reasons for proposing to fund below the minimum maintenance of effort amount.
Links to more information and resources on Maintenance of Effort:
- Coalition Flyer Supporting MOE Reforms (MABE, PSSAM and MSEA)
- DLS Briefing (January 20, 2012)
- MABE Contacts All Legislators and the Governor Urging Support for Maintenance of Effort Reforms (October 17, 2011)
- MABE's proposed amendments to make maintenance of effort the local funding floor
- MABE's Legislative Position Paper
- MOE v. Local Foundation Amount (DLS County Funding Table)
- What Local Funding Cliff? Or what is the difference between using Maintenance of Effort and the Local Share of the Foundation Amount as the funding floor?
- "The Call for Maintenance of Effort Reform: Accountability, Flexibility and Fairness" - MABE's presentation at the MACo Conference in Ocean City on August 18, 2011
- Ways & Means Committee Briefing (October 17, 2011)
- The State Board of Education Ruling declaring that the maintenance of effort waiver process is not mandatory (May 25, 2011)
2011 Legislative Session
- BRFA Amendment - MABE Talking Points Opposing the BRFA Amendment - Attorney General's Letter (April 4, 2011)
- Attorney General's Letter (April 7, 2011) - MOE v. Local Share - DLS Funding Table (FY 2010)
Budget & Taxation Committee Briefing
- Dept. of Legislative Services Briefing - MABE Testimony: including MABE's amendments to make MOE the local funding floor - MACo Testimony
State Board Decisions
- In Re: Anne Arundel County Maintenance of Effort (April 24, 2012) – Finding that the county did not fully fund MOE in FY 2012, by more than $11.9 million.
- In Re: MOE Non-Compliance Appeal: Anne Arundel County (August 28, 2012) - Finding that the county did not meet the FY 2013 MOE target amount by more than $5 million. The State Board provided the county with 60 days to provide this payment in full to the school system. If payment is not made, the State Board would notify the Comptroller to redirect $5 million from the county's local income tax revenues to the school system, under the new authority granted by the 2012 MOE reform legislation.
The Senate Budget & Taxation Committee Approves Education Funding, MOE Reform, Pension Shift, and Tax Increases
The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee met on Thursday March 8, 2012 to receive subcommittee reports on major sections of the pending state budget, and adopt full committee positions on four major pieces of legislation, including the Budget Bill (SB 50), the Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act (The BRFA, SB 52), the Maintenance of Effort (MOE) reform bill (SB 848), and a bill to raise income taxes (SB 523). Materials:
- MOE Reform – MOE Reform: Bill as amended and Bill Summary and background materials (SB 848)
- Teacher Retirement Cost Shift – Committee Summary and Cost Estimates (included in the BRFA, SB 152)
- Revenues - Bill to increase state income and other taxes, as amended (SB 523)
- Doomsday Contingent Cuts
Teacher Retirement Cost Shift Enacted in 2012
The Governor's Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act of 2012, reintroduced in the Special Session as SB 1301, included the phased-in shift of nearly $250 million in teacher retirement costs to local governments.
The new "local" obligation to pay the "normal cost" of teacher retirement costs is in the form of a mandated payment by the local school system to the State Retirement Agency, and this new funding obligation must be provided by the local government to theschool system in addition to the minimum amount required to satisfy Maintenance of Effort.
One of MABE’s top four legislative priorities in the 2012 session was to oppose shifting a greater share of teacher retirement costs from the State to local school systems. For many years, MABE has strongly opposed the various legislative proposals to shift the State’s obligation to pay teacher retirement costs to local governments or school systems. Local school systems already pay approximately $500 million in Social Security costs, 100% of retirement costs for many school employees totaling more than $60 million, and a new $16 million fee to the State Retirement Agency. These local costs add up to more than 50% of the State’s nearly $1 billion retirement system cost – and MABE argued that shifting another $240 million or more to county governments would dramtically and permanenetly impact available local funding for public edcuation and our bility to sustain and expand on our current, nationally recognized, success.
- Governor's Budget Highlights & Overview
- DLS Fiscal Briefing (1/23/12) - The full report is 85 pages long, so the pertinent sections on the teacher retirement cost shift proposal are provided separately: (Teacher Retirement Shift, Taxes, Selected Appendices, and Full Report (85 pgs.)
- Initial County-by-County Cost Estimates (pre-date the Fiscal Briefing materials above)
The Governor’s Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act (BRFA) included the much-anticipated proposal to shift to the counties a significant share of the cost of the state teacher and school employee retirement system. The BRFA was cross-filed as Senate Bill 152 and House Bill 87, and accompanied the Budget Bill (Senate Bill 150 and House Bill 85).
Pension Sustainability Commission
- Website with All Materials – Final Report – Local Costs of 50/50 Cost Share (FY 2012) – DLS Report (Dec. 2010)
- 2011 Session – 2011 Legislation & Fiscal Note (SB 628 by Senate President Miller) – MABE Testimony Opposing SB 628
- 2011 Interim – President Miller's Letter to Governor O'Malley Urging the Pension Cost Shift in the 2011 Special Session – MABE Letter Opposing President Miller's Proposal
The Capital Budget & School Construction Funding in FY 2013
DLS Fiscal Briefing Materials (1/23/12)
Teachers' & Employees' Pension Reform
BOAST – Tuition Tax Credit Financed Student Vouchers & Teacher Grants
- MABE Testimony Opposing 2011 Legislation (HB 932 – Building Opportunities for All Students and Teachers (BOAST) in Maryland Tax Credit)