Reform Sasscer Staff.
Washington DC – The bill will be introduced during next year’s session of the Maryland General Assembly and if passed, it will take money from casino revenue and funnel it into fixing up state school buildings. On Tuesday, Governor Larry Hogan held a press conference at Highland Park Elementary School in Landover, Md, unveiling a new plan to fix up Maryland’s schools.
His bill would fund $1.9 billion in school construction over the next 5 years increasing the amount of state money pledged to fixing school buildings to more than $3.5 billion. Hogan said he will submit proposals for Building Opportunity Fund legislation during the 2019 session of the Maryland General Assembly.
Hogan told reporters he hopes to receive additional funding to ensure that all Maryland Public School students go to class in air conditioned and heated buildings. “Education has always been our administration’s top priority and today’s announcement represents the largest investment in school construction ever in Maryland history,” Hogan said. “I believe very strongly that every single child in Maryland deserves access to a world-class education regardless of what neighborhood they happen to grow up in, and an important part of that is making sure that all of our students are educated in facilities that are modern, safe, and efficient which provide them with an environment that encourages growth and learning.”
Legislation passed with the governor’s support during the 2018 session created a ballot initiative to ensure casino revenues are used to provide additional funding for Maryland schools. The ballot referendum was approved by nearly 90 percent of Maryland voters in the November election, and will result in an additional $4.4 billion in school funding.
The referendum specifies “public school construction and public school capital improvement” as one of the targeted uses for this additional funding. If enacted, the Building Opportunity Act will provide funding to cover more than 90 percent of the projects requested by local school systems across the state from 2020 to 2024.
If Passed, this would be the largest school construction investment in Maryland history.
However, there are fears in the community based on the timing of the announcement with some concerned citizens stating that, “Hogan is making an early declaration in order to undermine the Thornton/Kirwan Commission final mandate,” stated a concerned citizen on social media. Read more here (on Kirwan Commission.) Dr. Thornton whose name has relevance to the Thornton Funding Formula did not speak at all during the brief press conference touching on state funding he helped shape into reality. There are reports that, the state of Maryland might be owing some jurisdictions in Maryland billions of dollars based on the Thornton formula after ignoring it for many years.
The Bridge to Excellence in Public Schools Act of 2002, commonly referred to as Thornton, established a state school aid formula to ensure that schools and school systems have the resources necessary to provide every child with an adequate and equitable education.