- The Washington Times - Friday, January 12, 2001

ANNAPOLIS Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening is proposing a record amount of new state aid for education, especially to boost early learning.
A key component of the $203 million in new spending Mr. Glendening, a Democrat, wants is $19 million for schools to put to their own best use to help third-graders meet state achievement standards.
"Local school boards know where they most need the funding," Mr. Glendening said.
The $19 million would be distributed among the state's 24 public school districts based on a formula that gives particular weight to economic need as well as enrollment.
Behind Baltimore which would take home about a quarter of the pie at $4.9 million Prince George's schools would get the second-largest share at $2.6 million. Montgomery County schools, virtually tied with Prince George's for the highest enrollment in the state, would get $1.54 million. Schools in Anne Arundel County would get $1.3 million; Howard County, $552,000; Baltimore County, $1.67 million; and Frederick County, almost $755,000.
Jurisdictions would have to use their allotments from the $19 million for kindergarten through third grade, but could spend it in a number of ways, including to reduce class size in reading and math or to supplement programs there, provide new instructional or library materials, or to expand kindergarten programs beyond the half-day norm.
The remaining $184 million would be aimed at a variety of areas, including academic intervention, raising teacher salaries and special education.
Mr. Glendening will provide details when he releases his budget next week. But from that pot, Prince George's would get about $37.3 million; Montgomery, $27 million; Anne Arundel, $10 million; Howard, $8.2 million; Frederick, $6.8 million; Baltimore County, $16.7 million; and Baltimore, $30 million.
Actually, all but about $30 million of the $203 million is money the state was already committed to spending because of enrollment changes and new programs.
Also part of the package is a $55 million special-aid package for Baltimore schools offered to settle the city's court-backed demand for more state aid. A judge ruled last summer that state aid to the city's school system does not meet Maryland's obligation to provide adequate education under both the state constitution and a 1996 consent decree in which the state gained increased control of Baltimore schools in exchange for $254 million in extra aid.
Local leaders said they hope to get more funding in a supplemental budget, but deferred most comment until the governor provides details.
But Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan said he is disappointed so far.
"Of the new program funding, we're getting a very small piece," Mr. Duncan said.
The governor also is asking the General Assembly to approve an $11 million statewide pre-kindergarten initiative that would double, from $4 million to $8 million, funding for Judith P. Hoyer Learning Centers. The state began establishing the "Judy centers" more than a year ago and named them for the late wife of U.S. Rep. Steny H. Hoyer to provide developmental and family services to prepare at-risk children for school.
About $6 million in state and federal funds would go toward running a program in which child care facilities and professionals could compete for accreditation and another $1 million would be spent to help identify gifted children.
The governor's proposal does not settle the question of whether Maryland should provide all-day public kindergarten throughout the state.
State Superintendent Nancy L. Grasmick has advocated the move, but her proposal has received mixed reactions from local leaders. Many are worried about how they would find and pay for classrooms and teachers needed to do it, particularly in the midst of a nationwide teacher shortage at a time when the economy is slowing.
"Some teachers and county leaders love it, some hate it," Mr. Glendening said. "If local jurisdictions want to use the money to start or expand [all-day] kindergarten, that's certainly up to them."
About 30 percent of elementary schools in Maryland offer all-day kindergarten. Prince George's began a locally funded all-day kindergarten program this year, as have a few other jurisdictions. Montgomery County offers it in select schools.
Advocates contend all-day kindergarten is most needed to serve at-risk students.


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