...While it would seem that this is a simple construct, the details are far more complex. Separate boards have the potential to create an adversarial relationship with the council that provides its funding. While it would seem that the BoE is subordinate to a county’s council, the various school boards have an ally in Annapolis. The State’s maintenance of effort (MOE) mandate says that per-pupil funding must not decrease in any year versus the prior year.
This type of law is designed to keep our children from being held hostage during budget negotiations; however, in its application, it rubber stamps self-perpetuating government by exempting half of a county’s budget from scrutiny. When a rare waiver is granted, it allows for the rhetoric to fly. When Montgomery County sought its recent waiver, BoE President Christopher Barclay stated, “The children of Montgomery County and Maryland have been stripped of a bedrock protection through this narrow reading of the maintenance-of-effort law. In Montgomery County alone, we are seeing what happens when a local government fails to meet its legal obligation.”
Mr. Barclay is not on an island. Eric Luedtke, teacher and member of the Board of Directors of the Montgomery County Education Association, chimes in with, “The fact is that without maintenance of effort, we will be doing less for our community’s children next year than we did this year. Is that really a precedent that we want to set?” I’m guessing that Misters Barclay and Luedtke never held a press conference to genuflect at the feet of the Montgomery County Council for their years of exceeding the mandate.
In the County of Kent, I believe we have been blessed with people who accepted the larger circumstance. While there was a brief dust up regarding teacher pay versus other employees who had recently taken pay cuts, the majority of the energy was focused on how to make lemonade from our economic lemons. Of course, it also helped that the size of the school system kept us out of the State penalty box...