Maryland State Department of Education

MSDE Bulletin

Keeping You Current on Education Reform in Maryland

May 5, 2000 Vol. 11, No. 7

Education Makes the Grade in 2000 General Assembly

New Legislation Passed Will Have Long-Lasting Impact Across Maryland

Education continues be a major issue nationally, and from the actions of the 2000 General Assembly, education remains a priority in Maryland. Many bills passed during the legislative session will have long-lasting effects as the state enters its second decade of school reform.

One disappointment for the State Board of Education, however, was that its proposed $49 million Academic Intervention Plan to help students who fall behind their peers at all levels received only partial funding after long and passionate debate.

The FY2001 budget will include items such as $2 million to modernize the state teacher certification process. Expanded funding is included for professional development involving gifted and talented programs; for fine arts; and for dance instruction.

School systems additionally will be affected by Senate Bill 896 concerning distribution of money from the Cigarette Restitution Fund. A requirement of the program is an annual survey of student behavior.

This Special Edition MSDE Bulletin details some of the major bills passed by lawmakers over the previous few months, and the groups they will particularly impact.

Teachers/Administrators

Governor's Teacher Salary Challenge (Senate Bill 810 and House Bill 1247): Provides for salary increases of up to 10 percent over two years through a cooperative program between the state and local school systems. Systems approving four percent raises for each of the two years will receive an additional one percent grant from the state.

Homeownership Opportunities for Teachers (SB 206):   Provides for inclusion of teachers in efforts by the Department of Housing and Community Development to make low-cost home loans available. Eligible teachers include those hired within the past five years; those committed to teaching in Maryland for at least the next three years; first-time homebuyers in designated areas; and those purchasing homes where the need for teachers is greatest.

Reemployment of Retired Personnel (SB 220):   Expanded 1999 SB 15, which granted pension earnings exemptions to retired teachers who returned to work. They must return to a geographic area declared as having a teacher shortage or to teach in specific fields short of certified teachers. This expansion includes retired principals in the plan.

Teachers Employed by Private Contractors (SB 866 and HB 1297):   Allows members of retirement and pension systems who go to work at reconstituted schools (operated by private contractors) to withdraw their accumulated contributions.

Retirees Exemption (HB 1404):  Retirees from local school systems who were members of the Teacher's Retirement System will be exempted from an offset of retirement allowance if they become re-employed in a part-time position with the University System of Maryland.

Scholarships

Maryland Scholarships (SB 205 and HB 281):   Increases Maryland HOPE maximum scholarship to $5,000 annually for students in a four-year college, and to $2,000 annually for students in two-year institutions, if they commit to teach in Maryland schools after graduation.

Students and Programs

Academic Intervention Plan (SB 810 and HB 1247):   Provides $12 million to fund intervention programs in middle schools. Intervention would help students who fall behind their peers academically and prepare them for planned High School Assessments.

Early Childhood Literacy Grants (SB 750 and HB 1172):   Requires State Board to provide grants to organizations that promote early childhood literacy.

Judith P. Hoyer Early Care and Education Centers (SB 793) / Judith P. Hoyer Smart Start Initiative (HB 1249):  Establishes competitive grant program for early child care programs, education centers and education enhancement. These programs are in line with some of the early childhood recommendations of the State Board's adopted all-encompassing Academic Intervention Plan.

Diplomas for WW II Veterans (HB 329):  Requires local boards to adopt regulations granting high school diplomas to students who dropped out of high school to fight in World War II.

Summing Up the 2000 Maryland Legislative Session

Fiscal

Public Education Partnership Fund (SB 107):  Created fund that would be able to accept private donations for various purposes, including seminars and public information.

Construction/Facilities

Aging School Program (SB 894):  Creates state debt of $9.8 million, the proceeds to be used as a grant to Interagency Committee on School Construction for allocation to eligible school systems under the Aging School Program. Funds to be used for repair, renovation and capital improvements.

Solar Energy Pilot Program (SB 711):  Authorizes local boards to apply for grants to cover 90 percent of the total additional cost of constructing or renovating school buildings to utilize solar energy systems.

Safety

Lead Poisoning Tests (SB 712):  Requires a public school physical exam of students in high-risk areas to include a blood test screening for lead poisoning.

Social Security Numbers on School Identification (HB 37):   Prohibits local boards from using student or employee Social Security numbers on any identification card.

Failing to Stop for School Buses Enforcement (SB 900):   Increases penalties for passing a stopped school bus and establishes $600,000 grant to assist law enforcement efforts (funded by motorists penalties).

Other Actions Passed

* President's Day: Declared President's Day in February a state school holiday

* Authorization to issue bonds and/or borrow for facility development: Granted to Baltimore City and counties of Calvert, Carroll, Cecil, Dorchester and St. Mary's

* Montgomery Transportation Hearings: Requires public hearing by Montgomery County Board of Education whenever it meets to consider an appeal on a school bus stop or bus route

* Prince George's Student Board Member Election: Authorizes county's Regional Association of Student Governments to establish procedures to elect the student member on the county Board of Education

* Somerset Straw Poll on High School Consolidation: Places on November 2000 ballot non-binding question whether the two high schools in the county should be consolidated

* Worcester Poll on Board Election: Places on November 2000 ballot non-binding question of whether the county Board of Education should be elected

Summary of 2000 Failed Legislation

* Public Charter Schools: Act of 2000 would have allowed pilot program of charter schools to be created by local school boards

* Reconstitution/Transfers: Would have allowed local boards to grant private school vouchers to students whose schools were reconstituted

* Academic Intervention Plan: Would have provided $45 million each of the next two years to fund the plan. (Some provisions were eventually passed)

* Class Size Reduction: Pilot program would have established limit of 17 or fewer students in eligible kindergarten through grade 3 core curriculum classes

* Student teachers and interns background disclosure: Would have required criminal background disclosure forms prior to being placed in school setting

* Principals and Administrators Mentor Programs: Would have authorized State Superintendent of Schools to distribute competitive grants to local boards for mentoring, targeting those systems with a majority of principals and administrators having five years or fewer years of administrative experience.

* Required Use of Teacher Assistants: Would have required teacher assistants in all classes, and for all school activities, kindergarten through grade 3

* Use of Portable Phones: Would have allowed students to possess portable phones on school property as long as the phones did not disrupt the school setting and were not being used for criminal activity

* Prayer at School-sponsored Activities: Would have allowed prayers at certain events

* Criminal Procedure Restitution: Would have allowed seeking of reimbursement from a student who makes a bomb threat and would have suspended driver's license of minors committing certain crimes


MSDE Bulletin
School & Community Outreach Office
Maryland State Department of Education
200 W. Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
Web site: www.msde.state.md.us

Ronald Peiffer
Assistant State Superintendent
410-767-0473

Lauren Proutt
Editor
410-767-0478

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