The Challenge of Adequate School Funding

Posted on: Thu, 10/19/2017 - 09:00

Image removed.The State of Maryland has some of the best public schools in the nation – and it has for many years because Marylanders have chosen to prioritize public education. It also has a state funding formula that strives for equity. (Education equity basically means fairness. It means giving all students the support they need to achieve and understanding that some students will need more supports to get there than others.)

The Thornton Commission established a funding formula that has served the students of Maryland well since 2002; however the full vision of the Thornton Commission was never realized as the recommendations were not quite fully funded – in fact, the recommendations of the Thornton Commission were only funded at about 90 percent over the years. And now, the Kirwan Commission grapples with the question of how to define adequate funding for Maryland’s future students.

But it is not just state funding for our schools that matters. Local funding is equally important to the quality of our schools – and perhaps even more so! Recently, I was asked if “maintenance of effort” represents adequate funding for our schools. The answer is “No.”

“Maintenance of effort” (MOE) funding was designed as a minimal funding level to prevent local governments from cutting support to schools – it’s the floor, not the ceiling. One of the biggest challenges with MOE funding is the lack of any inflationary factor being included. That is why when FCPS faced multiple years of MOE funding, we were making cuts to balance the budget – there was plenty of effort, but no maintenance!

We have been fortunate to have our County Executive and County Council support funding above maintenance of effort for the last 3 years. It has been critically important to our students, parents, and teachers. The work and recommendations of the Kirwan Commission will be critically important as well; so it was heartwarming to see so many community members and elected officials at the recent public hearing!

The citizens of Frederick County know that funding public education is a wise investment. And I am proud to lead a school system that provides a significant return on that investment every day!

Are you as tired as I am of hearing that MOE funding is “adequate”? Please share your thoughts on Twitter @FCPSMDSuper. And if you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it on Facebook or Twitter.