For the fourth year in a row, Education Week magazine ranked Maryland public schools as No. 1 in the country.
The annual state-by-state report card put Maryland on top with a "B+" rating and cited the state’s excellence in social issues, early childhood development and college readiness.
Maryland State Education Association President Clara Floyd expressed her pride about the ranking in a released statement but acknowledged that key issues still stand in the way of making the public school system better.
“To continue to move our top-ranked schools forward, it is imperative that we work together to repair Maryland’s broken Maintenance of Effort (MOE) law and safeguard local school funding,” Floyd said in the release.
The MOE law has remained a hot topic in Anne Arundel County, with Superintendent Kevin Maxwell and County Executive John Leopold at odds about whether the county met its funding requirements for public schools.
"The county failed to meet its Fiscal Year 2012 MOE obligations, the minimum level of funding that counties are required to allocate in order to support their school systems annually,” the superintendent said in his budget summary.
Maxwell also said the Maryland State Department of Education told him the county did not meet the MOE obligations, falling $12 million short of the obligatory amount. The school system reportedly faces a $3.8 million penalty from the state.
However, Leopold released a statement Wednesday refuting Maxwell’s claim.
“The Board of Education was not presented with all the information pertaining to the budget,” he said in the release.
The disconnect comes from debt-service payments for school construction, according to Leopold. The required level of funding for fiscal year 2012 was $610 million, but the county school system failed to acknowledge $54 million in debt-service payments for school construction, Leopold said.
A public hearing will take place Thursday night where residents can speak to Maxwell and the school board about its proposed budget for fiscal year 2013. The hearing begins at 7 p.m. in the Board of Education Parham Building in Annapolis.
Ray Leone, president of Anne Arundel County Council PTAs and an Edgewater resident, said he was pleased with the budget after attending Tuesday's public hearing at Old Mill High School in Millersville.
"It's best if [the school board] just lists everything they need [before sending it to the county council]," Leone said.
Some Anne Arundel County schools, especially Annapolis High, are struggling to close the achievement gap. The news of the top ranking came Thursday, the day after a meeting was held at Annapolis High to discuss how the school will implement a new "honors for all" program in the fall.
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