Press Release: Education Maintains Strong Support In 2014 Session
General Assembly Places Priority on Schools; Early Childhood Education
For Immediate Release Contact: Bill Reinhard, 410-767-0486
Baltimore, MD (April 8, 2014)
Maryland’s highly regarded education system continued to receive strong support during the 2014 session of the Maryland General Assembly, including funding for an important expansion of PreK programs.
The legislature also gave a slight boost to aid for education, increasing funding $94 million to more than $6 billion. The increase came despite the fact that legislators continue to work within the parameters of a tight State budget.
“Strong funding and expanded early learning opportunities will help Maryland develop world-class students who graduate ready for college or career,” said State Superintendent of Schools Lillian M. Lowery. “Building on the leadership of Governor O’Malley, the Maryland General Assembly continues to show that it is on the side of students and educators.”
The legislature’s strong financial support of public education began more than a decade ago with the passage of the Bridge to Excellence in Public Schools Act in 2001. The critical growth in funding has helped fuel educational improvement in all parts of the State.
The General Assembly approved Governor O’Malley’s expansion of Maryland PreK programs, SB 332 and HB 297, approving a $4.3 million grant initiative allowing local systems and community based organizations to build on existing programs. The grants would allow programs to accept students from higher income families and expand some half-day programs to full-day.
Other important education-related bills and initiatives also received legislative support this session. For example:
- State Early Childhood Advisory Council – HB 461 establishes the new State council, requiring the council to develop a strategic plan to improve school readiness for young children.
- Innovative Competitive Grant Programs – The General Assembly supported two competitive grant programs designed to move Maryland education forward. The Digital Learning Innovation Fund and the Early College Innovation Fund, initiatives developed by Governor O’Malley, awarded their first grants in 2013. The Digital Learning Innovation Fund helps local school systems accelerate the conversion to digital learning environments. The Early College Innovation Fund paves the way for students seeking career and technical education or training in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields.