Continuing to feel the economic crunch, Maryland county governments will be looking for new ways around a long-standing state law requiring them to fund their portion of local education budgets according to a formula known as Maintenance of Effort (MOE).
Maintenance of Effort was designed to ensure that county governments provide school systems with at least the same funding from to year on a per pupil basis.
The potential loss of MOE funding is likely to be seen as a serious blow by local school boards. They have argued that MOE should be the floor and not the ceiling in terms of local funding, given that MOE does not account for inflation or the seemingly endless stream of unfunded mandates handed down from state and federal authorities.
The Maryland Association of Counties (MACo) plans to push for legislation in the next Maryland General Assembly session that would “suspend or modify” Maintenance of Effort requirements, according to MACo’s incoming president and Harford County Executive David Craig. Craig told The Dagger that the decision to push for changes in the Maintenance of Effort requirement was the result of a vote by MACo board members and that it will be a primary thrust of the group’s legislative agenda in 2010. Craig said a variety of options would be explored including:
The exclusion of some non-classroom expenditures from the Maintenance of Effort requirement
Factoring the cost of teacher pensions into MOE, if the State decides to pass those costs on to local government
Rewriting the standards for waivers of MOE to include additional factors
Replacing the State Board of Education as the venue for waiver requests to be decided, in favor of another body such as the State Board of Public Works
That last item in particular, Craig said, was sparked by the State Board of Education’s refusal last year to grant waivers of the MOE requirements for Montgomery, Prince George’s and Wicomoco Counties despite the bad economy and despite some local board of education support for a waiver. Craig said “Obviously, the appeals process doesn’t work.”
Potential changes to Maintenance of Effort are not the only trouble on the horizon for local school budgets. Kathy Carmello, who manages governmental relations for Harford County Public Schools, told the Harford school board Monday that they should expect a potentially costly labor negotiations bill to return in the next legislative session and for the State to shift teacher pension costs to local governments in some form by 2012.
Brian Young says
If MACO and David Craig are successful, this could easily be the most important change to how Maryland government works this decade. Building schools cooperatively for what the area actually needs would be a move toward efficient government that would counter some of the harm done by the O’Malley administration.
So essentially……….This is a group who doesn’t want to fund schools.
This group doesn’t want to be told by the State exactly how to spend the money which they are having to squeeze out of local taxpayers. The state keeps passing down unfunded mandates to the local government. Who do you think picks up the tab? In many cases the counties with the most money even pay for other counties in the state for Maintenance of Effort.
The last great unfunded mandate was all day kindergarten. How much extra instruction time was gained when these kids now eat lunch and take naps. Seems like it was about all day child care. How much did that cost the counties and how much did the state pitch in for that? Just one example but the state keeps passing on expenses to the counties who in turn keep having to look for ways to pay for things they may not want and/or need.
Man you’re a jerk. This is a group that wants to set school funding. Cdev, the more I see you write, the more I think you are trend toward socialism.
In what way?
Finally, someone is waking up to reality. Local school boards need to learn to tighten their belts just like businesses do in tough times. All MOE does is allow schools to continue with wasteful spending year after year and never look at ways to do more with less. MOE is based on the false premise that more money for schools will lead to better outcomes.
I agree with you 100%. If you get a chance to get a copy of the 2008 Harford County School audit. It will make you sick with all the wasteful spending that could have been saved or used to make a difference rather than flushed down the toilet.
Please post a link to the audit & be more specific about what pages / items to view.
As far as I am aware it is not available online but as a tax paying citizen you can request a copy. This was the first year they had an outside source audit them. Previously it was all done “in house” so no one was checking the spending. One of the biggest losses was in transportation because they neglected to receive bids for fuel prices. According to the audit that potentially cost @ 12 million dollars in overspending. There were large contracts that were not reviewed yearly. And there were also a large number of employees carrying BOE AMEX that did not require them for their work. In the audit the problems were noted and BOE accepted the mistakes and overspending and explained how they were going to attempt to fix them. But if that was just one year think of how many other years issues like that have existed and how much that has cost the Harford County taxpayers. There needs to be a system put in place to ensure that the money is being spent correctly considering @ 57% of county income is going towards the schools and they are still short on money.
Cindy Mumby says
There is a link to the audit of HCPS here:
Thanks Cindy 🙂 I wasn’t sure if it was online, I have a paper copy.
Cindy Mumby says
Gearing up for battle in the upcoming General Assembly session, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett calls Maintenance of Effort “a stupid law” http://www.wtop.com/?nid=25&sid=1840147/
Here we go fighting the crazies who want to underfund schools