Bailey, Crosby intrigued by Kirwan ideas
New legislators will join Morgan, Clark in Annapolis next week for start of 90-day session
St. Mary’s state leaders, including the county’s two newly elected legislators, are gearing up for the 2019 legislative session, where policy makers will discuss the Kirwan commission’s public education recommendations.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert, Charles, Prince George’s) said during a phone call Thursday that state lawmakers will be discussing and implementing some of the recommended policies, but won’t discuss how to change the funding formula. He said the commission hasn’t “come up with a funding formula yet” and state lawmakers were hoping to have numbers nailed down by the end of this legislative session in March. He said lawmakers would also attempt to “get costs under control. “We’re not going backwards,” he said. Commission members were asked to continue working on the school funding formula recommendations, which is the second time updates to the funding system have been delayed.
The group, known as the Commission
on Innovation and Excellence in Education, formed in 2016 to address the state’s funding formula for public schools and other ways to help today’s students have a better chance at being college and career ready after high school. The formula has not been updated since the early 2000s.
Recommendations that have surfaced include universal prekindergarten and increases in teacher pay. According to a letter signed by Miller and Speaker of the House Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel), the commission has been asked to continue working on funding formula recommendations through the fall because “it would be very difficult for the General Assembly to complete work on both the policy frame-
work of the commission’s recommendations and a funding formula.”
The 90-day General Assembly session starts next Wednesday, Jan. 9.
Senator-elect Jack Bailey (R) said in an email Thursday that the delay would be “disappointing … but it is important that the legislature provides the proper funding formula to improve education in the State of Maryland.”
He said he’s going to be “an advocate for more funding for our rural counties, and work to ensure no unfunded mandates.”
Bailey said he was scheduled to meet Thursday with teachers and other school administrators regarding education priorities and needs during the legislative session. About teacher salaries, Bailey said “based on the importance of their profession in today’s society, they deserve
Jack Bailey is married to Karin Bailey, chair of the St. Mary’s school board.
The senator said “everyone can’t afford private pre-K,” and the classes should be regarded as an “important part of child development.” He said while he supported offering the classes to everyone, additional funding would need to be made available for both Calvert and St. Mary’s counties.
Jack Bailey said he will support improving school safety and “initiatives that provide additional funding [to] give parents and children the peace of mind” that schools are a safe learning environment.
Delegate-elect Brian Crosby (D) said during a phone interview Thursday the funding recommendations are a “monumental change” and legislators need to ensure the process is done carefully. He said he
would rather have “one shot to get it right [instead of] rushing to failure.”
He said he’s continuing to meet and discuss with teachers and parents about what he can do to improve education funding, and said he would like to see more resources go to teachers in the classroom and aim for the Kirwan commission recommendations.
“The earlier you can start on education, the more returns you’ll have,” Crosby said, adding the additional classroom time would help “bridge the gap” for students from economically disadvantaged families.
Of increasing teacher pay, Crosby said those in the education profession are undervalued and deserve to be recognized for their skills. He said he would also support providing broadband internet access for rural counties so children can complete online projects as as- signed.
Crosby said he’s not yet heard of additional school security legislation, but he and other elected officials “will do our homework … when the issues come up.”
Crosby said he continues to support hiring additional psychologists to help children through societal issues that they may not have someone to talk with, like “not knowing when their next meal is” or bullying.
Del. Matt Morgan (R-St. Mary’s) said in a text he was not sitting in committees this session that would discuss Kirwan commission recommendations or potential school safety legislation. He had no other comment on the commission.
Del. Gerald “Jerry” Clark (R-St. Mary’s, Calvert) did not respond to a request for comment.