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Hogan, General Assembly leaders name Kirwan to head education commission

Gov. Larry Hogan and General Assembly leaders name former UM system chancellor to to head education panel.

Gov. Larry Hogan and the top leaders of the General Assembly have named former University System of Maryland Chancellor William E. “Brit” Kirwan to chair a commission to recommend changes in the way Maryland finances public education.

Hogan announced Tuesday that he has joined Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael E. Busch in appointing Kirwan to head the the Maryland Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education. 

The governor called the formation of the panel a "valuable opportunity to identify new polices and ground-breaking solutions that will better prepare students for the future."

The General Assembly created the commission this year to re-examine the education aid formula crafted by the Thornton Commission -- named after Chairman Alvin Thornton -- from 1999 to 2002. The formula was enacted by the legislature in 2002 and has governed the distribution of billions of dollars a year in school aid to local jurisdictions since then.

The panel, which inevitably will become known as the Kirwan Commission, is scheduled to begin work this fall and produce a preliminary report in December. It is expected to issue its final report and recommendations in December 2017 so that it can be considered in the legislature's 2018 session.

Kirwan, 78, served as chancellor of the university system from 2002 to 2015. He previously served as president of Ohio State University and the University of Maryland, College Park.

The panel is charged with re-examining such issues as funding for disabled children, low-income students and non-English speakers. It will also study how to handle counties with declining enrollments and ways of expanding pre-kindergarten and other early childhood education, among other topics.

Hogan gave the panel a broad mandate to make recommendations for improvements.

"In order to live up to its potential, the commission must resist the temptation to focus entirely on education funding, to the exclusion of innovative new ideas that will truly change our schools for the better," he said.

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