As the dust settles on the 2018 state legislative session, the Montgomery County school system is on course to get a salary review for the Board of Education, more flexibility for the academic calendar and funding for meals provided to economically disadvantaged students.
Patricia Swanson, legislative aide for the school board, on Thursday said the Maryland General Assembly considered 3,127 bills this year before adjourning Monday.
“I think it was a fairly successful session,” she told board members during a regularly scheduled meeting.
Swanson gave them a briefing on legislative developments related to education, starting with the passage of a bill that will authorize a salary commission for the Montgomery County school board. The measure sponsored by Del. Eric Luedtke directs a commission to prepare by Sept. 1, 2019, its first recommendation on appropriate compensation for the board members, most of whom are currently paid $25,000 annually. The salary panel would revisit the board salaries every four years thereafter. Any recommended adjustments would have to be approved by the state legislature.
Gov. Larry Hogan also has signed an emergency bill that will enable school districts to extend the academic year five days past June 15 without seeking permission from the state. Education officials in Montgomery County and elsewhere in the state have implored Hogan to grant some relief from his mandate to start the school year after Labor Day and finish classes by June 15. The legislation sponsored by Sen. Nancy King gives them some breathing room at the end of the school year, according to Swanson.
With the passage of another measure, the state will begin providing funding to cover the student cost of reduced-price meals.
“So the idea is that if you qualify for free or reduced, you get a meal for free,” Swanson said.
Swanson said state lawmakers also approved a multifaceted student safety bill that would require school resource officers at every high school, mandate security evaluations and dedicate funds for safety initiatives at schools. All Montgomery County public high schools are assigned a resource officer, she said.
Maryland lawmakers also approved a measure that will trigger a referendum on creating an education lockbox for gambling proceeds in the state.
Other education-related bills that passed would:
- Require local school boards to offer age-appropriate lessons about affirmative consent;
- Ask each public high school to offer at least one high-quality computer science course, beginning in the 2021-2022 school year; and
- Direct school systems to develop policies on preventing child sexual abuse and to train employees on abuse reporting and identification.
Bethany Rodgers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.