The Senate has passed Senate Bill 905, the “Thornton 2.0” legislation to create the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education and the House has now passed similar legislation, House Bill 999. The House did adopt amendments which limit the scope of local school system master plan updates through calendar year 2017 to include updates on student assessments and the performance of students requiring special education and limited English proficient students. In addition, the amendments require MSDE to convene a group of stakeholders to review the current statutory and regulatory requirements of the master plan and the new requirements of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
Senator Nancy King is the lead sponsor of Senate Bill 905; and Delegate Ann Kaiser is the lead sponsor of House Bill 999. This legislation represents one of MABE’s key legislative initiatives in 2016 and is a priority bill supported by a broad coalition of organizations in educational advocacy community. The goal is to convene legislative leaders and education, business, and local government stakeholders to craft legislation to ensure the long-term adequacy and equity of funding for students in public schools statewide. The legislation is modeled on the 1999 legislation which created the “Thornton” Commission and led to the passage of the Bridge to Excellence in Public Schools Act in 2002.
MABE strongly supports this legislation to create a blue ribbon commission on education funding to begin the process of translating the work of the consultant’s funding adequacy studies and recommendations into legislative proposals for comprehensive funding reforms. The new “Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education” will review the current education financing formulas and accountability measures and make recommendations for updating and enhancing the funding formulas established by the Bridge to Excellence in Public Schools Act of 2002. The Commission is to provide a preliminary report to the Governor and General Assembly by December 31, 2016; and a final report by December 31, 2017.