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Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Governor Hogan Legislative Agenda Aims For Greater Education Equality

Proposed legislation would allow for greater freedom and autonomy in public charter schools and would create new incentives for K-12 scholarships and assistance to disadvantaged students. 

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Governor Larry Hogan  on Wednesday will release two new education proposals designed to create opportunities for families and students and to put Maryland on a path that ensures greater balance in the quality of education across the state. As part of this effort, the administration will introduce a bill to Strengthen Maryland’s Public Charter School Law as well as new Maryland Education Tax Credit legislation that provides tax credits for business and nonprofits that make contributions supporting eligible K-12 schools and pre-K programs. 

“Maryland has one of the best education systems in the country, but the gap between good schools and underachieving schools is among the worst. This legislation will expand choices for families and make it easier for more public charter schools to operate in Maryland,” said Governor Hogan. “Parents need realistic and better alternatives and children need rigorous and challenging curriculums that prepare them for the jobs of the future. Our legislation represents a much needed new direction in Maryland’s education system.”

The legislation follows the release of the Hogan administration’s FY2016 budget, which provided record levels of investment in K-12 education and marked the first time that any governor has funded supplemental education in the form of the Geographic Cost of Education Index (GCEI) during his first year in office.

Since the introduction of new laws over 12 years ago, just 47 charter schools currently operate in Maryland, with approximately 18,000 students enrolled. According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, Maryland has the fewest public charter school of any state in the nation where charter schools are permitted. 

Governor Hogan’s proposed legislation to Strengthen Maryland’s Public Charter School Law will deliver greater autonomy and could allow for new innovation in public charter schools through changes in the way public charter schools are regulated by education authorities. Provisions of the legislation will do the following:
  • Require public charter school operators to include in their applications a plan to provide rigorous program instruction and ensure that professional staff will be well qualified and credentialed
  • Provide an operating funding formula based on per pupil allocation and a capital funding stream by authorizing charter schools to be eligible for that capital improvement program
  • Ensure that public charter schools have access to public facilities commensurate with other public non-charter schools
  • Authorize charter school employees to be employees of the public charter school rather than of the local school system
  • Exempt public charter schools from the state teacher certification requirements
  • Authorize public charter school employees to form their own exclusive bargaining unit
  • Allow public charter school employees to be exempt from collective bargaining agreements of local school districts
The Maryland Education Tax Credit legislation, otherwise known as BOAST (Building Opportunities for All Students and Teachers), enhances the attractiveness of business and non-profit donations to eligible K-12 or pre-K programs in the state.  By putting in place this tax credit, many more Maryland children who are today enrolled failing schools could have the opportunity to benefit from a quality education in a safe environment at a greatly reduced cost. Tax credits would be administered by the Maryland Department of Business & Economic Development (DBED), where programs that offer scholarships and other educational assistance to disadvantaged students would be given priority.  

Under the Governor’s proposal, the tax credit would be available for 60% of the contribution made to eligible programs. Credits cannot exceed $200,000 each taxable year, with a cap on credits appropriated in the budget at $5 million in FY2016, increasing to $10 million in FY2017 and $15 million in FY2018.

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