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Process continues for school systems to implement Blueprint education plans

The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future education reforms will add billions of dollars in state funding annually for public schools within 10 years. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Accountability and Implementation Board on Thursday approved releasing money earmarked for reforms to the state’s 24 school systems because each has met the board’s minimum requirements for their local education plans.

The legislature approved a budget last week that included an additional $900 million in the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future fund, the state’s savings account for the ongoing education reform effort.

Rachel Hise, executive director of the AIB, said Baltimore City was the only school district that did not need to make any corrections or updates when their documents were first submitted.

William “Brit” Kirwan, chancellor emeritus of the University System of Maryland and vice chair of the accountability board, asked how long the built-up balance in the Blueprint Fund would last.

Hise said “if [financial] projections are correct, it would take us into” fiscal year 2027.

Verifying that those local school district plans met minimum requirements was the next step to ensuring that school leaders implement Blueprint plans that focus on four priorities: early childhood education, hiring and retaining high-quality and diverse teachers, preparing students for college and technical careers and providing more resources for students in need.

About 25% of funding could’ve been withheld from a school district if its plan didn’t meet minimum guidelines.

The accountability board staff and the state Department of Education will review each plan and offer recommendations to the Blueprint board.

Hise said each school system’s plan will be approved “on a rolling basis” beginning at the board’s next meeting May 11, when the board is expected to meet in person at the Anne Arundel County Board of Education building. With the exception of a session with the state Board of Education in December, all the meetings have convened online.

School leaders have a second deadline in March 2024 to submit Blueprint plans for incorporating the four priorities through the 2026-27 school year.

A third and final plan is due in 2027 to represent the school years from 2027-28 through 2031-32.

Each school district’s Blueprint document can be viewed on the accountability board’s website.

Meanwhile, the board received an update on staffing.

Hise said 125 applicants applied for an executive assistant position. It was unclear if that person would replace Graham Hardig, a management associate who attended his last meeting Thursday because he will be attending law school in another state.

Applications for another position, deputy director of operations, will close at midnight Monday. State law allows the AIB to have up to 15 full-time positions.

The board approved a procurement process policy Thursday in order to hire additional staff who may be on contract.

The board is an independent body and exempt from state procurement law, so it must create its own policy, said Heidi Dudderar, interim counsel for the board.

Dudderar said the board doesn’t have to follow the state’s 29% goal to secure state contracts with Minority Business Enterprises.

Although no specific percentage is established in the board’s policy, it will “to the extent practicable” seek to comply with the MBE program.

Other positions the board will need to fill are five education policy analysts and local school systems liaisons, a research/data analyst, a research and accountability director and an outreach and communications director.

People interested in applying can send resumes and letters of interest via email to [email protected].


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Process continues for school systems to implement Blueprint education plans