The following letter was sent to Gov. Martin O'Malley. A copy was provided for publication.
In looking at the proposed state budget and aid to local governments for FY 2014, and as I begin to craft my budget here in Harford County, I have concerns regarding the state aid projection for our public school system. Based on the projected aid for FY 2014, the state allocation for our public school system will be over $4 million less than the state aid disbursal the previous year. Harford County's reduction is the largest of the state's 24 jurisdictions.
I understand that the reasons why our state aid is falling next year are due to the fact that enrollment has fallen by 341 students, and because although our county's "wealth" as determined by the state has declined, has declined less than most other counties. As for the other factors used to calculate state aid to schools (Geographic Cost of Education Index, Guaranteed Tax Base funding, and Supplemental Grants), Harford County receives none of this funding.
It is not my intention to suggest that the wealth formula is flawed or that the factors that determine the state's allocation of education aid are imperfect. Rather, I am respectfully and sincerely asking that Harford County be held harmless and not be given less than we were the year before.
In the past when Harford County has had falling enrollment, I have always exceeded the Maintenance of Effort level in allocating the county's portion of public schools funding, and I have never given less to the Board of Education than I gave the previous year. As a former teacher and school administrator, I believe that doing so sends the wrong message to our educators, our students, our parents, and our citizens.
I know that we both share the view that K-12 education is the foundation of a thriving and prosperous society. Our schools in Maryland are some of the best in the nation because even in tough times we chose to invest in our schools with the understanding that a quality education is the foundation for success later in life.
I respectfully ask that Harford County's children be held harmless by restoring the state's allocation to the Board of Education to this year's level. I would appreciate the chance to meet with you on this matter, and I look forward to the opportunity.
David R. Craig
Harford County Executive