A task force deciding how to pay for billions of dollars in recommendations to boost Maryland’s public schools will make its final decision Oct. 15 on how much the state’s various counties would have to pay for the improvements.
Former University System of Maryland Chancellor William “Brit” Kirwan, who is chairman of the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, said the task force will finish its work devising funding formulas for public schools next month.
“That will be when we make our final decisions and that will be in public,” Kirwan said Thursday. “The whole process where the decisions are being made will be in public.”
Kirwan emphasized the public nature of the decision because the work group voted last week to meet behind closed doors. That sparked objections from some who argued the body was being too secretive.
The so-called Kirwan Commission has recommended free, full-day prekindergarten for low-income 3- and 4-year olds, raising standards so all students are ready for college or a career upon graduating high school, and establishing a strong accountability system to oversee its recommendations.
Those recommendations would cost about $3.8 billion annually when phased in after 10 years.
The work group is tasked with creating formulas to determine how much individual counties will pay and how much the state will pay. It will not recommend specific ways to raise revenue.
Republicans have met the effort to spend billions more in taxpayer dollars — without an identified funding stream — with skepticism, and they’re warning against any increase in taxes to do so. The Washington Post reported this month that Gov. Larry Hogan and the Change Maryland organization formed by his allies is planning to raise more than $2 million to fight the plan and push other priorities of the governor.
The Republican governor has angered Democrats by deriding the proposal aimed at bolstering public schools as “half-baked.”
Meanwhile, the Maryland State Education Association, the teachers’ union, which led all lobbying efforts in Annapolis in the 2019 General Assembly session in spending $784,000 to support increasing funding for education, announced this week it planned to run $500,000 in television ads to support public schools funding.
A poll that Goucher College’s Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center released this week found 74% of Marylanders supported paying more in taxes to improve public education, while only 26% were opposed.