Education association holding community forum

Evan West

CUMBERLAND — A local education official wants to set the record straight regarding the Kirwan Commission’s potential impact on Allegany County.

The Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education was created by legislation in 2016 to research and develop major funding and policy reforms for Maryland’s nearly 900,000 students. It is led by and named after William “Brit” Kirwan, former chancellor of the University of Maryland System. 

The commission proposes contributions of about $2.8 billion from the state and $1.2 billion from local governments in fiscal year 2030. 

A final report is due by the end of the year and recommendations could go before the Maryland General Assembly in 2020.

Meanwhile, “there’s a lot of misinformation,” said Evan West, UniServ director for education associations in Allegany and Garrett counties.

Much of the confusion pertains to the state’s Maintenance Of Effort law that requires counties to provide at least as much funding, on a per pupil basis, as they did the prior fiscal year. 

The Allegany County Board of Commissioners a few weeks ago wrote the Kirwan Commission to express concerns.

“The county’s overall spending for education will grow from $30.7 million currently to $38 million by FY2030,” county commissioners stated. “This $8 million increase in county funding over the next nine budget years would require a 16% tax increase to county residents over the same time frame.”

However, those increases would be required under current MOE and “are not related in any way to Kirwan,” West said.

“Unless they plan on not meeting their MOE requirements, they’re going to have to make these increases regardless of what happens with Kirwan.”

The Kirwan Commission would not require a local increase, he said.

Additionally, Allegany County Public Schools would receive $43.5 million in new state funding over the next nine years, West said.

“The school system could do a lot with the new state funding and it would be a huge benefit for our communities,” he said. “Chances for more state funding like this are once in a generation.”

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