The Baltimore County school board voted Tuesday to support the recommendations of the Kirwan Commission, despite reservations expressed by some members.

The county school board was one of the last in Maryland to decide whether to add its voice to the chorus of local school leaders in the state who are advocating for the passage of legislation that would provide an additional $4 billion in funding to schools by 2030.


“Nearly all boards are on the record in support of the Kirwan blueprint,” said John Woolums, a spokesman for the Maryland Association of Boards of Education. The association asked local boards if they supported lobbying for the legislation during this year’s Maryland General Assembly session and received nearly unanimous support without reservations.

However, a few school boards in the state, including Baltimore County’s, were still considering their positions. The plan has not gotten the support of the Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, who warned it would require significant tax increases. There’s likely to be a significant debate in the legislature over funding the proposals.

Before the school board’s vote on a resolution, several county school board members said it was not up to the board to find the money to fund the legislation. They said while they might have concerns about the spending, they would not vote against it. Only one member, Russell Kuehn, abstained from voting.

“One of the primary concerns I hear is that people are concerned about how are we going to pay for this and what is the local share,” Lily Rowe said. “This body is not a taxing body, and therefore our primary position is to advocate for the needs of the school system."

Rowe said at a committee meeting last week that she had “huge” personal concerns as a resident about how it would be paid for but believed the increased funding would allow the system to make “revolutionary strides.”

Members said they are concerned about the expansion of prekindergarten in private facilities, accountability measures for the spending of the additional money, and other issues. Cheryl Pasteur, who proposed the resolution to support Kirwan, said many of those concerns have been addressed in the commission report.

If passed, the Kirwan recommendations would provide an additional $1.6 billion in state funding to Baltimore County schools over the next decade.

Beginning in fiscal year 2022, Baltimore County would receive $45 million more in state funding and that number would increase incrementally each year until 2030. By then, the county would receive $349 million more a year in state funding.

But the Kirwan recommendations call for increased spending by both state and local government. Under the plan, county governments and the city would also have to add more to school spending each year. Baltimore County, however, would not be required to increase its spending on education until 2029, when the county would have to come up with $41.7 million more. In 2030, the county’s increased share is $88.4 million.

By 2030, the funding formulas approved Tuesday would require the state government to spend $2.8 billion more on schools and mandate $1.2 billion from local governments for their county school systems, for a total boost of $4 billion annually.

The money would go to a variety of programs, including increasing teacher salaries, providing support to schools in areas of concentrated poverty, and, redesigning high school so that more students graduate with certifications that lead to decent-paying jobs. The commission’s goal has been to make Maryland’s schools to the best performing in the nation.