Brit Kirwan

Kirwan named to chair school funding commission

In an unusual joint announcement of a highly unusual joint appointment, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan and the Democratic leaders of the legislature Tuesday named former university system chancellor Brit Kirwan as chair of a commission to review all the hotly contested school funding issues in Maryland. Its recommendations are due in December 2017, potentially kicking off some of the most contentious debates of the election-year legislative session in 2018 as representatives fight for formulas that help their local schools.

Testing commission releases final report

The Commission to Review Maryland’s Use of Assessments in Public Schools has posted its final report on how to reduce standardized testing. As reported here last month, the commission realized it had little power on its own to reduce testing, but must leave it to the state and local school boards to take action. Under the law creating the commission, local boards of education have until Sept. 1 to adopt or reject the commission’s recommendation, and the State Board of Education has until Oct. 1.

MSDE_Logo

Audit finds multiple money problems at Md. education agency

The Maryland State Department of Education kept more than $12 million of federal reimbursements for its own programs rather than return it to the state as required by state law, state auditors found in a report citing multiple problems with the department’s financial dealings..

The Office of Legislative Auditor’s report released Tuesday raised issues across the agency including improper handling of checks, spending that didn’t follow procurement guidelines, faults the business office for improperly handling funds and checks; and states MSDE neglected to report possible criminal or unethical activity of its employees for possible prosecution.

Testing commission 6-14-2016

Testing commission wraps up, asking local school systems to finish the work

Anyone hoping the state commission on school testing would substantially reduce the amount of standardized testing in public schools already knew that was not going to happen. But as the Commission to Review Maryland’s Use of Assessments and Testing in Public Schools put the finishing touches Tuesday on its final report, they believed that their findings and recommendations could significantly improve how tests are given, and eventually reduce the time and effort put into tests that don’t contribute to student learning or instruction.

girl at white board math class school (by mrcharly on Flickr)

New commission will likely lead to renewed battles over school funding

Quietly and unanimously, with brief hearings and practically no news coverage, the Maryland General Assembly passed bills that will likely set up one of the most contentious legislative fights of its election year session in 2018. The companion bills set up the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, a 25-member panel charged with examining a long list of issues about public school funding. Its recommendations are due in October 2017.

Senate passes spending mandate to make college more affordable

With the cost of college rising and student loan debt a growing issue, the Maryland Senate Friday passed legislation that establishes a matching state contribution to eligible college savings accounts and creates a refundable tax credit of up to $5,000 for undergraduate student loan debt. The bill costs the state $52 million over the next five years. Because it is new mandated spending, most Senate Republicans voted against the bill when it passed 34-11.