LA PLATA, Md. (March 31, 2009)—The Charles County Board of Education today announced their opposition to a request by the Charles County Commissioners to waive the state's Maintenance of Effort requirement.
Maintenance of Effort is the state law that requires local governments to maintain the same level of funding from year to year and provides increases based on the enrollment and per pupil cost from the previous fiscal year. It ensures minimum local government funding in public education. Charles County Public Schools receives a significant portion of its funding from county government. Since 1984 the law has ensured that counties meet a proportional funding obligation relative to state funding.
In a letter to Donald Wade, chairman of the Board of Education, the Commissioners wrote that they regret that they are planning to request a waiver of the Maintenance of Effort for the next school year. They are filing for the waiver, according to the letter, because the county may receive additional unspecified state funding cuts. Counties must file requests for a waiver of Maintenance of Effort to the Maryland State Department of Education by April 1.
"The Maintenance of Effort waiver would have a significant impact on the school system, students, programs and staff," Wade said. "It is not in the best interest of maintaining a quality education system. Our funding projections for next year are already significantly lower on both the county and state levels and the cuts jeopardize the progress we have made in recent years."
By requesting a waiver of Maintenance of Effort, the Commissioners are asking to reduce funding by approximately $4.5 million below this school year's original budget and cut $14 million from the Board of Education's proposed budget of $304 million. Requested budget increases include only mandatory costs for health insurance, transportation, employee longevity steps, maintenance service contracts and utilities. The school system has not entered into negotiations with its two employee group representatives because of the lack of firm revenue projections from both the county and the state.
Additionally, the school system anticipates state funding will be flat; however, no official funding notification has been provided. The school system initially expected a $1.8 million cut in state funding, but projections show that stimulus money may offset that loss.
"The current law requires that the county levy taxes sufficient to meet the statutory obligations of Maintenance of Effort. A simple desire on the part of the Commissioners to avoid appropriate actions to satisfy the law is not a reason to grant a waiver or to overturn the law," Wade said.
Counties must by law submit a formal request for waivers to the Maryland State Department of Education and must prove that the county's fiscal condition significantly impedes the county's ability to fund Maintenance of Effort. A public hearing on all waiver requests will be held 9 a.m., April 27, at the Maryland State Board of Education in Baltimore.
Wade said the local Board plans to oppose any effort by the county to waive Maintenance of Effort and will ask the local delegation to oppose a statewide waiver. "While some counties may not be able to meet the legal requirement of Maintenance of Effort, the Board of Education feels that Charles County can meet its obligation," Wade said.
Source: Charles County public school system