What is the Kirwan Commission? What you need to know about the group addressing Maryland public education.

In the next month, the Kirwan Commission is expected to unveil a new formula for education funding that more equitably disperses state revenues to school systems, giving more money to less wealthy school systems and less to wealthier ones.

What is the Kirwan Commission?


The commission was created by the legislature in 2016 and is led by and named after William “Brit” Kirwan, the former chancellor of the University of Maryland System.

What does it do?


The 26-member panel made up of legislators, educators, business people and county leaders has been working this fall to rewrite the current funding formula that has been used for about two decades. The commission has recommended a $3.8 billion increase in spending to be phased in over a decade. About half of the increase would come from county and city governments and the remainder from the state.

How are Maryland schools funded?

Schools are funded through a combination of state and local tax revenues. Gov. Larry Hogan has expressed distaste for a commission plan that would require tax increases.

Who decides how money for schools is divvied up?

The new formula, which is expected to be one of the most significant issues facing the Maryland General Assembly when it convenes in January, will take into account county’s tax base, the percentage of students living in poverty and a host of other factors.

The commission has already released a series of recommendations on how the additional money would be spent, including creating higher standards for entering the teaching profession, raising teacher pay, providing more funding for pre-kindergarten and focusing resources on schools where there’s a high concentration of children in poverty.