Priority Issue: The Kirwan Commission & The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future



Bill Status

On March 14, the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Act (HB 1300) was passed by the General Assembly. The legislation garnered the votes of 6 of 15 Republican Senators (the vote was 37-9), but not Republican Delegates (the vote was 96-38). The Governor vetoed the legislation on May 7, 2020.

Therefore, the following summary is intended to describe the policy and funding provisions, including implementation timelines, intended under the Blueprint legislation as passed by the legislature and presented to the Governor. However, if and when the legislature does override the Governor’s veto of HB 1300, the bill would take effect 30 days following the veto override in precisely the same form as passed in the spring of 2020. Therefore, separate “companion” legislation would be needed to amend the timelines, and funding and other provisions contained in HB 1300.

The Blueprint for Maryland's Future Act (House Bill 1300) is a landmark, generational piece of legislation intended to enhance and improve the state and local investment in, and school system operation of, Maryland's public school system and each of the schools within the 24 local school systems. This 230-page bill, unprecedented in thoroughness, ambition, and cost, contains the policy and funding recommendations of the Kirwan Commission, described in much greater detail below, and the addition of major components by the legislature. MABE has developed a summary of the bill, our advocacy partners the Maryland State Education Association (MSEA) has developed a condensed outline of all bill provisions, and the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) has provided an outline of the bill's array of requirements and deadlines. Most recently, on April 17, 2020 the Department of Legislative Services (DLS) issued its post-session Summary of Major Issues report, including detailed analysis of the Blueprint legislation.

Background on the Kirwan Commission

The Kirwan Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education was a multi-year initiative to research and develop major funding and policy reforms to improve the quality of Maryland’s public education system to benefit each of the nearly 1 million students, which will in turn benefit the State’s economy and quality of life for all Marylanders.

MABE Presentation: What's the Kirwan Commission and the Blueprint for Maryland's Future All About  (Oct. 10, 2019)

Key components of the Kirwan Commission’s work include:

• The APA Funding Adequacy Study: Expert analysis of what Maryland’s educators and experts have determined needed to improve our schools.
• The National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) Framework: What experts recommend as the building blocks for creating an innovative and globally competitive education system.
• The passage of Question 1 on the 2018 statewide ballot amend the State Constitution to shift more than $500 million in casino revenues to actually increase school funding above present levels. Senate Bill 1122 (2018) called for the referendum. (Increased funding = $125 million in 2019-2020, $250 million in 2020-2021, $375 million in 2021-2022, and at least $500 million in 2022-2023)
• The Kirwan Commission’s Interim Report: Issued in January of 2019, based on the NCEE framework, and building on the Adequacy Study through the continuing assistance of APA.
• The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future: Senate Bill 1030 is the legislation enacted in 2019 to launch three-years of increased funding for PreK, special education, teachers’ pay, and other programs. ($255 million in 2019-2020, $355 million in 2020-2021, and at least $370 million in 2021-2022)
• The Funding Formula Workgroup: Meeting in the summer and fall of 2019 to develop final recommendations for the full Commission to receive in November to incorporate into final legislative recommendations.

The 2020 legislative session, which convened on January 8, 2020, saw the successful of the passage of the full Kirwan Commission bill, the Blueprint for Maryland's Future Act (House Bill1300), including the 10-year phase-in of NCEE's policy framework and the state and local cost shares of the overall funding increases. Another key component of this work was envisioned as including legislation identifying sources of State revenue to meet the State’s funding obligations to implement the Blueprint. Such bills did pass, albeit with amendments reflecting the immediate need to respond to the COVID-19 caoronavirus pandemic.


Updates - 2020 Legislative Session Actions (as of Monday, April  6th, 2020)

On Tuesday, March 17th, 2020, the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future was passed amid the mad dash to the pandemic Sine Die finish line.

With this monumental legislation on its way to the Governor’s desk, and our Federal and State governments looking to repair the impending disruption to our economy due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there leaves a lot of question regarding the potential shift in the plan to fund this costly initiative. This bill, beginning in fiscal 2022, substantially alters State aid and State policy for public schools known as the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future. Also, it establishes in law the policies and accountability recommendations of the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, including the creation of a new Accountability and Implementation Board to oversee implementation of the policies and funding provided under the Blueprint. Funding for existing education formulas, including the foundation program and targeted programs, is altered, and new funding formulas are established for specific purposes, such as the concentration of poverty grant program and publicly funded full-day prekindergarten program. The bill also repeals and alters other grants and programs. Local government school funding requirements are also altered. The bill takes effect July 1, 2020.

The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future (House Bill 1300) was introduced on Friday, February 7, and on Monday February 17, Presidents Day, the General Assembly held a joint hearing of House and Senate committees responsible for deliberating on the bill. House Bill 1300 was considered through a work group comprised of the Education Subcommittees of the Appropriations and Ways and Means Committees. These subcommittees, and the respective full committees then voted on the bill as amended with more than 60 amendments. Several of the House amendments were in response to MABE’s extensive list of more than 60 requested amendments.  Importantly, the House also adopted the bill, as expected, to significantly address and reduce the burden of increased local funding shares for several jurisdictions, including Baltimore City, Prince George’s County, as well as many rural counties.

On March 10th and 11th the Senate’s Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs (EHEA) Committee read through more than 50 amendments from the committee’s chairman, Senator Paul Pinsky, and the following evening adopted those along with several offered by committee members. This voting session in EHEA went late and at the same time the Budget and Taxation (B&T) Committee was reviewing the bill, considering several fiscally oriented amendments, and awaiting the Education Committee’s final action. By 11:00 p.m. the B&T Committee had approved the bill as amended. The Senate’s final version differs markedly from the bill passed in the House. First, the Senate continued the process of adopting amendments requested by stakeholders such as MABE and PSSAM and MSEA. Secondly, the Senate committees adopted two significant amendments not contemplated in the House.

MABE Summary/Outline

MABE Testimony & Leadership Panel Remarks

MABE Requested Amendments

Fiscal & Policy Note


Update - Return on Investment Study 

The return on investment (ROI) report commissioned by Strong Schools Maryland finds that Maryland’s economy will benefit from the profits and growth that would occur as a result of expanded opportunities in vocational and technical training and universal Pre-K, among other factors. The report was released on Dec. 3, 2019.

Update - Business Leaders Support Kirwan

Read the letter sent on December 11, 2019 by more than 30 Maryland business leaders to Governor Hogan and legislative leaders in strong support of passing legislation in 2020 to enact the recommendations of the Kirwan Commission.

Business Executives - We Must Implement the Kirwan Commission Recommendations
"We are business leaders whose lives have been committed to building the economy and providing jobs for Marylanders. Maryland employers and employees must compete with companies across the United States and across the world. To succeed in an ever increasingly competitive global economy, our state must have a world-class education system. Sadly, we don’t have that now. Significant and immediate changes in our present system are needed or Maryland will slip and all Marylanders will pay a steep and avoidable price."

"We have reviewed the recent recommendations for systemic educational reform put forward by the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education (the Kirwan Commission). We strongly support the Commission’s recommendations."

The following information is intended to provide background and links to resources relating to all of this work.

"The Blueprint for Maryland's Future" - Senate Bill 1030

This landmark legislation was enacted earlier this year to establish "The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future" as State education policy, based on the recommendations of the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education (known as the Kirwan Commission in recognition of commission chair, Dr. William ‘Brit’ Kirwan). The bill provides significant funding increases for several programs and establishes the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Fund. The bill provides funding in FY 2020 per the Governor’s discretion; and mandates that additional funding be included in the Governor’s budgets for FY 2021 and FY 2022.

During session, MABE leadership provided testimony in support of the legislation at the initial bill hearings.  Julie Hummer, MABE's Legislative Committee Chair, outlined the key provision's of the legislation and MABE's support the proposed increases in funding for prekindergarten, special education, programs for students living in areas of concentrated poverty, and state support for teacher salary increases.  Other organizations testifying in support included the Public School Superintendents Association of Maryland, the Maryland State Education Association, Strong Schools Maryland, Maryland PTA, Advocates for Children and Youth, ACLU Maryland, and the Maryland Association of Counties.

The bill was crafted to incentivize passage and full funding by making the creation of the office of inspector general contingent on the release of the $200 million in 2018 income tax funds already residing in the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education Fund (renamed the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Fund). In addition, the bill stipulates that any funds restricted for purposes of the bill in the FY 2020 budget not transferred or released by the Governor must be distributed in FY 2021, in addition to other funds required to be distributed by the bill in FY 2021.

On May 15, 2019 Governor Hogan announced and provided a letter to legislative leaders explaining his decision to release the funding for FY 2020 and to allow the Kirwan bill to become law.

The bill takes effect June 1, 2019. For more detailed information, see the 90 Day Report.

  • Funding - The bill distributes $255 million in FY 2020 (at the Governor’s discretion) consistent with the funding priorities identified by the Commission and mandates a total of $355 million in FY 2021 to begin to implement the recommendations. The bill also mandates that $370 million be distributed to The Blueprint Fund in FY 2022, as well as an additional $130 million contingent on revenue made available as a result of legislation enacted in the 2019 and 2020 legislative sessions to implement the Commission’s recommendations. Note: $134.5 million of the $255 million budgeted in FY 2020 was contingent on the Governor releasing this amount from the $200 million in income tax revenues set aside last year.


  • Teacher Salary Incentive Grant Program - This program, administered by MSDE, provides grants to county boards to increase teacher salaries to improve recruitment and retention of high-quality teachers. In each of FY 2020 and FY 2021, the State must provide a grant to a local board in the amount specified in the law if the local board provides a negotiated and funded average “salary increase” for teachers of at least 3.0% in FY 2020. “Salary increase” may include salary increases for cost–of–living adjustments, increments, step increases, interval movements, pathway movements, or similar salary increases received by employees as a regular part of the operation of a personnel system or negotiated schedule between a public school employer and exclusive representative for an employee organization. “Salary increase” is further defined as “the average percent increase in the salaries for teachers in the county over the prior fiscal year that does not include one–time stipends or payments, promotions, retirement benefits, or other benefits.” A significant amendment was adopted to define “Teacher” as “a certificated public school employee who: (i) is not an administrator; and (ii) as of April 1, 2019, is part of a collective bargaining unit that includes classroom teachers.”
  • Mental Health Services Coordinator - For both FY 2020 and 2021, $83,333 is provided to each local school system to fund the mental health services coordinator that each local school system must appoint pursuant to the Safe to Learn Act of 2018.
  • Concentration of Poverty Grants - This program provides grants to public schools in which at least 80% of the students were eligible for free and reduced-price meals (FRPM), in accordance with standards for community schools, wrap-around services, and the positions of community school coordinator and full-time professional health care practitioner. For both FY 2020 and 2021, the State must distribute a grant to each local school board equal to $248,833 for each eligible school, to be distributed to each eligible school. The FY 2020 $54.6 million estimate for concentration of poverty grants is based on 2017-2018 school year data indicating that 219 schools (mostly in Baltimore City and Prince George’s County). For FY 2021, additional schools are eligible for the grant based on the 2018-2019 school year data.
  • Special Education Grants - In both FY 2020 and 2021, an additional $65.5 million is provided for the education of students with disabilities, with specified allocations to each local school system. The bill provides that if any of this funding is “not needed to fully implement individualized education programs (IEPs) and 504 plans for students with disabilities” each local board of education must use the remaining funding to implement other recommendations made in the Kirwan Commission’s January 2019 Interim Report.
  • Transitional Supplemental Instruction for Struggling Learners Grants - For each of FY 2020 and 2021, the State must distribute to local boards funds totaling $23 million, as allocated by the bill, for the provision of TSI for struggling learners, including  additional academic supports using evidence-based programs as defined in the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). TSI includes one-on-one and small-group tutoring with a certified teacher, a teaching assistant, or any other trained professional; cross-age peer tutoring; and screening, identifying, and addressing literacy deficits. Struggling learners are students who perform below grade level in English/language arts or reading in kindergarten through grade 3.
  • Teacher Collaborative Grant Program - MSDE, in consultation with the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC), to award grants totaling $2.5 million in each of FY 2020 and 2021, to teacher collaboratives to develop model, state-of-the-art, professional development programs for prospective and current teachers. A collaborative must constitute a partnership of at least one local board, one teacher preparation program, and one exclusive employee representative.
  • Maryland Office of the Inspector General for Education - The bill establishes the office as an independent unit of the State and establishes the Inspector General (I.G.) position within the office. The bill specifies the qualifications and experience that the I.G. must have, provides for the appointment of the I.G. to five-year terms, and specifies conditions for removal of an I.G. The I.G. is responsible for examining local boards of education, local school systems, and public schools; nonpublic schools that receive State funds; MSDE; and the Interagency Commission on School Construction. The I.G. may investigate complaints concerning: fraud, waste, and abuse involving the use of public funds; violations of the civil rights of students and employees; whether policies and procedures governing the prevention and reporting of child abuse and neglect comply with federal and State law; and compliance with other federal and State law.  This was a contentious issue during session, including the legislature rejecting the Governor’s bill to create such an office, a March 14, 2019 letter from the Governor insisting that greater accountability measures be included in the Kirwan bill, and the legislature’s subsequent decision to amend the bill to do so. Similarly, Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management David Brinkley’s March 14, 2019 letter to legislative leaders urged fiscal restraint in adopting increases in mandated funding. The amounts of mandated funding in FY 2021 and 2022, as enacted, are much less than initially passed by the House at the time of Secretary Brinkley’s letter.

The 2019 Kirwan bill is a major accomplishment, representing a $1.1 billion funding initiative spanning 3 years, and yet is only the first step toward adopting more comprehensive educational program reforms and a 10-year state and local funding implementation plan. Therefore, following the 2019 session, the Commission's work is being complimented by a "Blueprint for Maryland's Future Funding Formula Workgroup."

In addition, the full Commission will reconvene in October of 2019 to finalize the long-range policy and funding recommendations to be included in 2020 legislation.

Full Commission Meeting Calendar (Updated 9/3/19)

Funding Formula Workgroup

On June 4, 2019 Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. and House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones announced membership of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Funding Formula Workgroup. Today’s announcement is a result of a request from the presiding officers to the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education that a special workgroup determine funding formula decisions before the 2020 legislative session.

The Funding Workgroup will:

  • Make recommendations for the distribution of funds recommended by programmatic area included for recommendation of the Kirwan Commission policy report by the LEA and State/local cost share;
  • Prioritize order of funding for programmatic recommendation of the Kirwan Commission policy report; and
  • Make recommendations for specific funding formulas for ongoing costs within each Kirwan Commission policy recommendation.

Funding Formula Workgroup Meeting Calendar (Updated 9/3/19)

The Workgroup held it's first meeting on June 20, 2019.
Highlight: Presentation on "Building the PreK-12 Funding Formulas"
Meetings were also held on July 24, August 1, and August 22.
All Workgroup agendas, videos and meeting materials are available on the Kirwan Commission's homepage.

MABE Takes Positions on Key Workgroup Issues

In MABE's letter of August 26, 2019, MABE President Tolbert Rowe wrote to Dr. Brit Kirwan, who also chairs the Funding Formula Workgroup, to highlight MABE's positions on several major funding policy issues. Highlights of the letter include the following statements:

  • MABE is confident that through incremental implementation of funding recommendations developed by the Workgroup and Commission, on a timeline not to exceed 10 years, Maryland can renew its commitment to fulfilling its constitutional mandate to fully fund and support the equitable access for all students to an excellent education in all twenty-four school systems.
  • MABE strongly supports a Workgroup recommendation to phase-in a new requirement for local governments to pay a local share of per pupil funding for economically disadvantaged students, students receiving special education services, and students learning English.
  • Equity, in funding and educational policies and programs, is a top priority for MABE and the local boards we represent. For MABE, educational equity means providing access to essential academic, social, emotional, and economic supports in order to engage each student in rigorous instruction with appropriate educational resources to achieve their highest potential.  Funding equity is necessary to support educational equity, and clear and formal requirements for local investments in all students are needed to ensure that both of these equity outcomes are achieved.
  • MABE recognizes the need to determine whether to include prekindergarten students in the full-time equivalent (FTE) count with all other students, or to count them separately. MABE supports the proposal to count prekindergarten students separately, at least through the implementation phase. However, MABE also supports defining prekindergarten students as enrolled students for purposes of triggering the mandatory local share of the foundation amount on a per pupil basis.
  • MABE urges the Workgroup to recommend adjustments in the relative role of property and income wealth to address longstanding concerns. Several jurisdictions are disproportionately negatively affected by the overwhelming role that property values play in determining their local wealth, and therefore their diminished allocations of state aid for education.
  • MABE supports comprehensive recommendations to enhance our school finance system by increasing the foundation amount of funding for all students, sustaining and increasing the additional “weighted” per pupil funding for our students learning English, students living in poverty, and significantly increasing the weighted funding amount for students receiving special education services. In addition, MABE strongly supports adopting a per pupil funding approach for both the state and counties to support current, and expanded, prekindergarten programs.

All Workgroup meeting agendas and materials, and videos of proceedings, are available on the Commission's website. Meetings are being held in the House Appropriations Committee, Room 120, House Office Building, 6 Bladen St., Annapolis.


Funding Formula Workgroup Members
 Dr. William (Brit) Kirwan (Chair of the Comm. on Innovation and Excellence)
 Senator Bill Ferguson (Vice-Chair, Budget & Taxation Cmt.)
 Delegate Maggie McIntosh (Chair, Appropriations Cmt.)
 David Brinkley (Sec. of the Dept. of Budget and Management)
 Joan Carter Conway(Former Senator)
 Monique Davis  (Asst. Supt., Anne Arundel Co. Schools)
 Eloise Foster (Former Sec. of the Dept. of Budget and Management)
 Matt Gallagher (Former Governor's Chief of Staff/Goldseker Foundation)
 Barry Glassman (Harford Co. Exec.)
 Sean Johnson (MSEA)
 Richard Madaleno (Montgomery Co. CEO)
 Cheryl Pasteur  (Baltimore Co. Board of Education)
 Alvin Thornton (Prince George's Co. Board of Education)


The Kirwan Commission's Interim Report and Long-Range Plan

On February 14th, 2019 the Kirwan Commission released its 2019 Interim Report.

The Report is a call to action for the building of a world class education system in Maryland, and includes recommendations in five major policy areas.

1. Investing in High-quality Early Childhood Education and Care: Significant expansion of full-day pre-school, to be free for all low-income three- and four-year-olds, so that all children have the opportunity to begin kindergarten ready to learn;

2. Elevating Teachers and School Leaders: Raising the standards and status of the teaching profession, including a performance-based career ladder and salaries comparable to other fields with similar education requirements;

3. Creating a World-class Instructional System: An internationally benchmarked curriculum that enables most students to achieve “college- and career-ready” status by the end of tenth grade and then pursue pathways that include early college, Advanced Placement courses, and/or a rigorous technical education leading to industry-recognized credentials and high-paying jobs;

4. Providing More Support to Students Who Need It the Most: Broad and sustained new support for schools serving high concentrations of students living in poverty, with before-and after-school and summer academic programs and student access to needed health and social services, and increased support for English learner and special education students; and

5. Ensuring Excellence for All: An accountability-oversight board that has the authority to ensure that the Commission’s recommendations are successfully implemented and produce the desired results.

MABE submitted a 2-page statement to the Commission emphasizing the association’s strong support for the recommendations overall, but strong opposition to key recommendations in the governance and accountability section of the Report.

“MABE has participated fully in the Commission’s work and supports its focus on significantly increasing the State’s investment in a high performing, innovative statewide system of public schools. MABE supports advancing the goal of improving Maryland schools to ensure our students are equally as prepared as students educated in the world’s highest performing school systems. MABE strongly supports the Commission’s recommendations requiring equitable access to an excellent education for all students in all twenty-four school systems. However, MABE objects to specific recommendations regarding the governance, authority and accountability of local school systems, found in both the Governance and Accountability and the College and Career Ready Pathways policy areas.”

“MABE strongly opposes the adoption of the recommendation for a new governance and compliance body to oversee implementation of the Commission’s recommendations and subsequent legislation. Such an independent oversight body is neither necessary nor appropriate to coordinate, monitor, and evaluate implementation of the Commission’s recommendations as these functions are already are within the purview of the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) and the State Board.”

Funding Sources in 2019 (for FY 2020 and Beyond)

There were two significant funding sources to launch Kirwan in the FY 2020 budget and beyond. A $200 million Kirwan Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education Fund was created last year, and was fully available. In addition, $125 million in casino revenues became available for FY 2020, thanks to the overwhelming passage of Question 1 on the 2018 ballot to convert the entire Education Trust Fund (ETF) to new, increased funding to support Kirwan Commission initiatives. The ETF, as a source of guaranteed increased funding for education, will grow from $125 million in FY 2010, to $250 million in FY 2021, to $375 million in FY 2022, and to over $500 million in FY 2023.

However, Governor Hogan’s proposed State Budget did not allocate any of the $200 million Kirwan fund toward FY 2020 spending, and would have invested only $24 million of the $125 million in ETF funds in Kirwan recommended areas. Instead, $45 million would have been used to launch a new school construction program administered by the Maryland Stadium Authority, a program also intended to receive $125 million per year in ETF money beginning next year.

The Kirwan Commission's December 2018 Work - Including "Costing Out Reports" on Major Policy Areas

The Commission is poised to issue a final report featuring major policy and funding recommendations centered on five major policy areas. Final drafts of Working Group & Commission recommendations and Costing Out Reports (Updated as of Dec. 6, 2018):

MABE Testified Before the Kirwan Commission 

On November 29, 2018, MABE President Tolbert Rowe and several other members of MABE’s Board of Directors provided testimony and remarks before the Kirwan Commission. President Rowe’s remarks highlighted MABE’s positions on each of the five major policy areas and was accompanied by 8 pages of written testimony.

MABE Legislative Committee Chair Julie Hummer provided testimony focused on the need for increased state funding for high quality early education opportunities for 3 and 4 year old students, and Michael Garman, chair of MABE’s Resolution’s Committee, delivered remarks on MABE’s support for local board governance and the continued oversight role of the State Board and MSDE as opposed to a new oversight body. In addition, Tracy McGuire, President of the Calvert County Board of Education, testified in support of local board decision-making in allocating resources to best serve students and regarding employee contract negotiations.

2018 Ballot Question 1 Passed - Changing the Role of Casino Revenues

Question 1 was added to the ballot following the General Assembly’s passage of the Fix the Fund Act, Senate Bill 1122, during the 2018 legislative session. Read MABE's testimony in support of the Fix the Fund Act, Senate Bill 1122 (, which passed in 2018 to mandate and include the precise language of the ballot question. ) called for the referendum. Senate Bill 1122, during the 2018 legislative session.

Casino revenues have not led to major increases in school funding as many Marylanders expected. While casino revenues went into the Education Trust Fund—which can only be used for funding public education—nearly the same amount of existing funding was shifted from education to other parts of the state budget. The result has been that the new revenue from casinos didn’t add to existing funding; instead, it has largely maintained the existing levels. Voting yes on Question 1 will keep a promise made to voters that casino revenue would increase school funding.

See "Where the Money Goes" according to the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency

What's the Share of Gaming Revenue Going to the Education Trust Fund?

29.6%  - FY 2018

31.8% - FY 2017

35.2% - FY 2016

37.3% - FY 2015

39.4% - FY 2014

46.7% - FY 2013

48.5% - FY 2012

48.5% - FY 2011

2018 Session Highlight - Kirwan Recommended Legislation Passed

Legislation developed by the Kirwan Commission passed in 2018 (House Bill 1415).  This bill extends the deadline for the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education to complete its work by one year. It also establishes or alters several programs and mandates funding for them beginning in FY 2019.

House Bill 1415 and Senate Bill 1092 were introduced to enact several policy initiatives aligned with the work of the Kirwan Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education. The House has passed HB 1415 with several amendments, none of which are problematic or alter MABE’s position in support of the bill. A detailed summary is provided in the bill’s fiscal and policy note.

The bill establishes new programs and makes funding recommendations for the following:

• New Teacher Recruitment Program
• K-8 Literacy Grant Program
• Mandated Level Funding for Prekindergarten Grant Programs
• Concentration of Poverty Grants
• Teaching Fellows for Maryland Scholarship Program
• Career and Technical Education Grant Program
• Special Education Study Extension
• Kirwan Commission Extension

Additional information: On February 15, the Kirwan Commission released its Preliminary Report which includes several major policy recommendations of the Commission.

The Kirwan Commission's Preliminary Report Leading into the 2018 Legislation Session

Preliminary Report January 2018

In 2016 the General Assembly passed House Bill 999 and Senate Bill 905 to create the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education. This bill was one of MABE’s top legislative priorities. MABE greatly appreciates the lead sponsorship of Delegate Anne Kaiser and Senator Nancy King and the broad support in the General Assembly for the pursuit of continuous improvements in the state’s approach to adequately and equitably funding Maryland’s outstanding public schools. MABE's representative on the Kirwan Commission is MABE's past president Joy Schaefer. In addition, MABE took the initiative to form its own Committee on School Funding Adequacy which in September of 2016 released a report “Priorities and Perspectives on the Future of Public School Funding in Maryland(Executive Summary) to provide background information, in-depth analysis, and an overview of local board perspectives on the funding adequacy study.

On September 29, 2016 the “Kirwan” Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education held its first meeting. Commission Chair, William E. "Brit" Kirwan, opened the meeting by emphasizing the rare opportunity to be on such a commission, and that although the charge is very broad, the task at hand is essentially to make recommendations on how to make our schools better and that we owe it to students to develop a system that is as good as the best in the world.

On September 13, 2017, MABE wrote to the Commission to voice support for meaningful improvements to Maryland’s public school finance system, including substantial funding increases aligned with accountability for successful academic outcomes for all students. MABE Letter (September 13, 2017)

The Commission has received comprehensive presentations on the Funding Adequacy reports produced by APA Consulting and adopted a framework for its work based on the National Center on Education and the Economy's (NCEE) "Nine Building Blocks of a World Class Education System." All Commission meeting agendas and meeting materials are available on the General Assembly's website. The APA Funding Adequacy Report is also available: Executive Summary; Adequacy Study: Final Report (11/30/2016 - Prepared by APA Consulting for MSDE)

Update (as of 12/27/2017)

The Kirwan Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education began meeting in the fall of 2016 to develop recommendations for updating the state’s education funding formulas. The Thornton Bridge to Excellence formulas were adopted in 2002, and long overdue for updates to not only increase the base per pupil amount for all students but also address funding needs for expanded prekindergarten, career and technical education, special education services, and community schools with wrap-around services.

The Commission was also to review the findings of a comprehensive funding study, conducted by Augenblick, Palaich & Associates (APA) in 2015-2016 at the cost of over $1 million, which recommended significant reforms and increases and in state and local school funding in its Final Report of the Study of Adequacy of Funding for Education in Maryland. MABE played a leading role as a member of the MSDE Stakeholder Group which monitored and provided input to the adequacy studies conducted by consultants Augenblick, Palaich and Associates (APA). The MSDE webpage for the Adequacy Study and Stakeholder Group contains all of the consultants' reports and stakeholder group meeting materials.

The Commission did not proceed to develop legislative recommendations aligned with the final APA study, but instead organized its work around the framework and advice of another consultant, the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE). NCEE’s focus is on reforms needed to make Maryland an international leader in high quality public education based on comparisons with Finland, Switzerland, Singapore, Shanghai, Ontario and Massachusetts.

The Kirwan Commission finalized its preliminary recommendations organized under the following 9 Building Blocks of a World-Class State Education System; the framework developed by NCEE.

  1. Provide strong supports for children and their families before students arrive at school
  2. Provide more resources for at-risk students than for others
  3. Develop world-class, highly coherent instructional systems
  4. Create clear gateways for students through the system, set to global standards, with no dead ends
  5. Assure an abundant supply of highly qualified teachers
  6. Redesign schools to be places in which teachers will be treated as professionals, with incentives and support to continuously improve their professional practice and the performance of their students
  7. Create an effective system of career and technical education and training
  8. Create a leadership development system that develops leaders at all levels to manage such systems effectively
  9. Institute a governance system that has the authority and legitimacy to develop coherent, powerful policies and is capable of implementing them at scale

The Commission met on Dec. 20, 2017 to finalize the policy recommendations to be included in its preliminary report. A final report, with specific funding recommendations aligned with the Commission’s policy recommendations (with the costing-out study to be done by APA), is not due until later in 2018.

All of the Kirwan Commission’s draft recommendations are available on the Commission’s webpage. Examples of key recommendations to be included in the preliminary report, organized under each of NCEE's 9 Building Blocks, include:

1. Early Learning: Universal access to public and private provided prekindergarten for all four year olds and low-income three year olds, with private providers held to high standards, and tuition allowed in public and private schools/child care centers on a sliding income scale.

2. Funding: Increase per pupil base and additional per pupil weights for special education, English Learners, and low-income students. Create a new weight for concentration of poverty. Weighted funding should follow at-risk students to their school. Develop funding recommendations following the 2018 legislative session based on a new cost analysis by Augenblick, Palaich and Associates (APA) aligned with the Commission’s final recommendations.

3 and 4. Standards and Pathways: Assess all incoming kindergarteners and create educational plans for each child. Move the grade year by which students are expected to acquire levels of proficiency in mathematics, science, and English literacy needed for success on adopted Maryland assessments (e.g., a score of 4 or 5 on the PARCC assessment) in the first year of community college to the end of 10th grade. Requiring all Maryland high school students who are on track for college and career readiness by the end of 10th grade to be offered rigorous pathways toward college and careers through AP, IB and other college prep programs and CTE programs leading to industry certification. Requiring all Maryland community colleges to enroll students that achieve the 10th grade standard in initial credit-bearing coursework without remediation (with a higher standard for four-year colleges).

5. Teacher Supply: Provide strong financial incentives to students with strong records of academic achievement in high school to choose a career in teaching. Use teacher education program approval authority to ensure that the content of these programs meets international standards of subject matter as well as mastery of the craft of teaching. More rigorously assess teacher preparation programs based primarily on the success of a program’s graduates in the classroom and not on input measures such as the Praxis exam. Create a seed grant program for school districts to partner with university teacher preparation programs.

6. Teaching Profession: In order to recognize effective teachers and incentivize them to stay in the classroom, Maryland must build a statewide career ladder system modeled on the most effective such systems in the US and the world. Advancement up the ladder should be based on the acquisition of specified knowledge and skills, rigorous evidence of success as a classroom teacher and/or additional responsibilities commensurate with the additional compensation. While the career ladder will have a statewide framework, local school systems would negotiate the compensation and responsibilities at each step, as well as any additional ladder steps or requirements added to the statewide framework, through local negotiations. Phase–in a reduction of the maximum time, currently 70 to 80%, that teachers teach in order to give teachers more time to work as professionals in collaboration, as is the case for teachers in countries with high performing systems, to improve the curriculum, instructional delivery, and tutor students with special needs.

7. Career & Technology Education: Remove CTE from MSDE and LEA purview. Create 2 independent groups to A. revamp Maryland’s CTE program to align with Switzerland and Singapore; and B. hold school systems accountable for implementing the new CTE program requirements.

8. Leadership: The career ladder system should include school leaders. Train every currently serving superintendent, senior central office official, and principal in the State to give them the vision, motivation, skills and knowledge they will need to implement the recommendations made in this report.

9. Governance: To make sure that the Commission’s recommendations are implemented as intended, Maryland should establish an “independent entity” to guide and direct the implementation. The new entity would develop a detailed plan for implementation of the Commission's report, with goals, milestones and measurable interim objectives for all relevant government agencies and departments, including schools. This entity would have the authority to withhold increases in State education aid if a school system has not provided an implementation plan that is approved by the independent entity or is not making demonstrable progress in implementing the Commission’s recommendations in accordance with its approved plan.


For more information, contact MABE’s Director of Governmental Relations, John R. Woolums, Esq., at or 410-841-5414.


All Board Service Academies and committee meetings are virtual during this time.

If you have any questions, please email