Maryland panel recommends billions in new school spending

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Maryland panel recommends billions in new school spending

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — A state commission says Maryland should increase K-12 education spending by an estimated $4.4 billion per year about a decade from now, or about 30 percent more than the current level, under preliminary cost estimates released Thursday.

The panel known as the Kirwan Commission could still make revisions before it sends a final report to the Maryland General Assembly by the end of the year or before lawmakers gather for their annual 90-day session Jan. 9.

The recommended increases, which include a combination of state and local money, would begin in the next fiscal year, when they would total about $807 million. They go up each year for a decade. For example, the total estimated amount increases to about $1.9 billion in fiscal year 2021, about $2.8 billion in fiscal year 2022 and about $3.3 billion in fiscal year 2023. It first goes over $4 billion in fiscal year 2027.

The increases are in four main areas. One is for early childhood education, such as pre-K programs, including full-day prekindergarten at no cost for 4-year-olds and 3-year-olds from families with incomes up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level. The other areas include elements like teacher pay, college and career readiness and additional resources for at-risk students.

The overall estimates of new costs include about $1.6 billion in savings from overlaps

Lawmakers will be considering the recommendations in the legislative session that begins in January.

The commission, which has 25 members, met most of the day in Annapolis, and members had a broad range reactions to the amounts of money discussed.
Commissioner Kalman Hettleman described the increases as modest, especially in the first several years.

"That is a very small down payment to do the kind of work that we want to do to develop adequacy and narrow achievement gaps," Hettleman said. "That is a very small amount of money for the near-term years to get about the work that needs to be done."

Former University System of Maryland Chancellor William "Brit" Kirwan described it as a large increase.

"Policy recommendations play out over 10 years, and that leads to a 30 percent increase, uninflated, over what we're currently spending, which is a large increase by any stretch of the imagination," Kirwan said.

Others noted the state is facing structural deficit in future years, because projected state expenses exceed projected revenues.

"It's fascinating sitting here to listen to this, because we also have serious asks when it comes to health and health care, transportation — though they have a separate pool of money, but we're now going into the general fund to dip into that, and public safety, your higher education institutions, all of these come into the mix, so that's where we are," said David Brinkley, a commission member who also is Gov. Larry Hogan's budget secretary.

Maryland last updated its K-12 funding formulas in 2002.


Source: AP