The Blueprint provides more funding, more staffing, and more student services for a safe, supportive learning environment for all students and school employees.
As they studied and debated the new school funding formula that would become the Blueprint, the Kirwan Commission listened to educators, read the statistics, looked at other high-ranking education systems, and took the call for increased staffing seriously. They realized that without more staff, Maryland could not achieve the goals of a well-supported workforce and a world-class education system accessible to every student.
For every exciting new program funded by the Blueprint there is a related call for increased staffing. The Blueprint calls for 15,000 more educators, among them many more paraeducators who can support expanded pre-k and family support centers, special education students, English language learners, and community schools with more individual and small-group tutoring, before- and after-school academic programs, and more.
The Blueprint recognizes social and racial injustice and poverty as deeply affecting students’ school success. That’s why more paraeducators will be trained to be trauma-informed and culturally aware, and better able to respond to the needs of more students. And with more time for collaboration built into schedules, paraeducators will have more opportunity to work with their partner teachers and target help for students.
The new law also provides transitional supplemental instruction (TSI) for K–3 students who score a 1, 2, or 3 on the English language arts or reading portions of the MCAP. This academic support comes through one-to-one and small–group (not more than four students) tutoring with a teacher, paraeducator, or other trained professional. It also includes increased opportunities for screening, identifying, and addressing literacy deficits. TSI funding is in place until the end of the 2027–28 school year.
The funding for all of this is provided to local boards of education through the Blueprint’s extensive grants programs and an improved overall per pupil funding formula. That means there’s more money at the bargaining table where ESP leaders and teams can negotiate increases in salaries for ESP in all job categories. Better salaries across the board will help maintain a dedicated community-based workforce and ensure the intent of the Blueprint to provide a fully staffed, safe, and healthy learning environment for the entire school community.
The Blueprint takes a hard look at the issues our students face and tackles them with the programs and funding our schools need to be successful, safe, and healthy. Hiring more paraeducators and providing more professional development means we can help more students. And there will be more funding at the negotiating table so we can bring our salaries up to where we know they should be.— RANDY PATTERSON, 2019 MSEA ESP OF THE YEAR
With the passage of the Blueprint, educators will see a nearly 50% increase in state special education funding through fiscal year (FY) 2030*. Per pupil special education grants reach a maximum of 153% in FY 2030—meaning that school systems will receive 153% of the foundation amount of per pupil funding for each student receiving special education services in the system.
The result of this massive increase in funding should be a sea change in the professional lives of special educators and paraprofessionals by providing the staff, resources, and time to support their students.
The Blueprint is committed to recruiting and retaining more high-quality and diverse pre-k–12 educators across the board, including hiring more paraeducators and support staff who can support and assist ELL students and their families. The expansion of pre-k, family support centers, and community schools means educators, health and behavioral health professionals, community programs, and other wrap-around services can more deeply address barriers to learning and engagement for ELL and other students.
To assure that state and local boards of education and special education departments are maximizing resources and funds and serving students as intended, the Blueprint includes a rigorous accountability structure through the Accountability and Implementation Board to ensure that all Blueprint funds are used as intended and not absorbed or redirected to central offices or MSDE.
*Maryland’s fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30 of the following year.