The 2017 legislative session was a banner year for public advocacy. I want to thank my constituents for your stalwart support on this important issue. Your letters, rallies and lobbying efforts made it clear that the proposed formula-driven budget reductions to public education, particularly in Baltimore City, were unacceptable.
Under the strong leadership of my 43rd District colleague Maggie McIntosh, I was pleased to be a part of the solution as a co-sponsor, along with other members of the Baltimore City delegation, of HB 684. This bill was originally introduced to simply help fund school districts with declining enrollments; however, we amended the bill to add aid for school districts – like Baltimore City – that provide full-day Pre-K for 4-year olds. Currently, the state only reimburses jurisdictions for half-day Pre-K, but because Pre-K is so vital to our kids, Baltimore City offers full-day Pre-K, but was not getting state reimbursement.
This bill changes this unfair practice, and the state will now reimburse City schools nearly $70 million over the next three years – including $23.7 million this year. This bill also helps ease the city schools funding gap by requiring Baltimore City to contribute an additional $22 million in support for city schools for each year for the next 3 years.