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Maryland lawmakers send two-year, $850 million education funding plan to governor

Maryland lawmakers on Friday gave their final approval to a two-year plan to increase state funding to public schools.

The Senate signed off on tweaks the House of Delegates made to the plan, called the “Blueprint for Maryland’s Future.” That sent the measure to Gov. Larry Hogan for consideration.

The plan would send more than $850 million in extra funding to public schools over two years. In fiscal year 2021, the budget year that runs from July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2021, an additional $355 million would go to public schools. The year after that, the extra money would total $500 million.

The money would go primarily to three areas: increasing teacher pay, expanding prekindergarten, and creating “community schools” in high-poverty areas. Community schools provide additional services for families, such as health care.

The programs are among those recommended by the Kirwan Commission, which has been reviewing the state’s education system and its funding for several years. The commission is nicknamed for its chairman, William “Brit” Kirwan, a former chancellor of the state university system.

The bill would also establish a state inspector general for education who would investigate reports of waste, fraud and abuse in schools — an concept supported by Hogan.

The Senate’s final vote was 45-0, following a 43-1 vote earlier in the week.

The two-year plan is designed to start carrying out the Kirwan Commission’s recommendations.

The commission and lawmakers are expected to discuss a new funding formula for public schools that will result in further spending on education.

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