And other legislative updates in this week’s Up the Street
By Monday a fiscal year 2024 budget must be adopted, and a joint legislative conference committee has to work out differences between the House and Senate versions. On Thursday afternoon, House conference committee negotiators arrived to a committee meeting to iron out final differences but were not joined by Senate conference committee members.
Nevertheless, the toplines of the budget for public school funding are historic, including record-breaking investments in public education, forward funding the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future by around $1 billion to shore up its fiscal sustainability, and fully funding education support professionals’ $1,000 bonuses that were passed last year but shortchanged by Gov. Hogan. This overall funding will continue to take steps to reduce educator shortages, improve salaries, and implement the wide range of student-centered programs that will help students across the state.
Funding for the BOOST private school vouchers program, which takes public money from public schools to use in private schools, remained a sticking point. Gov. Moore’s budget and the House version of the budget prudently reduced funding for the vouchers and phased them out. The Senate level-funded the program and removed the phase out language. Conference committee members must meet again to resolve this difference.
As the final two weeks of the session sees bills run through hearings in rapid succession, this week featured several opportunities for MSEA to advocate for the educational equity, social justice, and labor rights that are among educators’ priorities. Several bills were in the House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday:
On Monday, the Moore administration released its second supplemental budget. The supplemental reflects adjustments made to FY23 and FY24 fiscal projections by the Board of Revenue Estimates (BRE) earlier this month. It also increased funding by $2.2 million for Maryland Meals for Achievement’s in-classroom school breakfast program.
Last week, all 24 local boards of education met the deadline to submit their initial Blueprint implementation plans for approval by the Accountability and Implementation Board (AIB) and Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE), and all of them referenced a critical shortage of educators that will be needed to successfully implement the Blueprint over the next decade. This week the State Board of Education reviewed the timeline for approving the initial plans, and they estimated that all 24 districts’ plans are either sufficient now or the districts will receive support to amend the plans so they can be approved. The AIB will begin to approve plans next month.
View any of the local school district implementation plans at the AIB website.
School officials must submit a second set of Blueprint implementation plans in March 2024 to highlight the four Blueprint priorities—early childhood education, diverse and high quality educators, supports for struggling learners, career and college readiness—through the 2026-27 school year.