On Friday, she met with state lawmakers from the county, imploring them to work with officials in her administration to lower the local share of the eventual $4 billion-a-year overhaul that Prince George’s is expected to pay.
To receive an influx of state dollars that would cover the majority of the total cost, counties would have to increase what they spend on education. The amount each county would have to contribute, and when their contributions would begin, was determined through a formula that took into account the amount that counties already put toward their schools and wealth in each of Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions.
Baltimore and Prince George’s would have to spend the most on education — but they would also receive the largest shares of state money.
According to the funding formula, Prince George’s would be expected to put an additional $360 million in county tax dollars in 2030, when the recommendations are fully funded, and the state would put in $570 million. Prince George’s would be asked to put in an additional $7 million in county tax dollars in fiscal year 2022.
Alsobrooks said she supports the recommendations made by the commission, which include raising teacher pay and training standards, providing free preschool to nearly all children and funneling more resources to poor and special-needs students.
But she says the proposed increases are untenable for the county of nearly 1 million.
“Prince Georgians have done their part,” she said. “We have done everything we can to make sure we have contributed. . . . In spite of all our efforts, it has not been enough.”
Maryland’s Democratic legislative leaders are weighing a variety of options for generating income on the state level and last week ruled out raising state income, property or sales tax rates this year to pay for Kirwan.
Alsobrooks has also said she will not raise taxes on residents of Prince George’s, who already have some of the highest tax rates in the state.
“My budget director told me, ‘We can totally afford this, as long as you defund the police department,’ ” Alsobrooks told reporters in Annapolis on Wednesday, the first day of a 90-day legislative session in which education reform will be a top issue.
Baltimore City would be expected to put in $329 million in 2030 and receive $502 million in state funding. Howard County, by comparison, would not have to increase what it is already planning to spend on education and would receive $142 million in additional state funding.
Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young has also expressed concerns about how Baltimore City will meet the funding requirement, according to a memo to staff obtained by the Baltimore Sun. Baltimore would have to put $138 million more toward schools by fiscal year 2022, according to the formula. Lawmakers from the Eastern Shore have also said they are concerned about the cost of Kirwan and they would rather cut other items in the state budget than increase taxes to generate the money.
In a letter to county council members last month, Alsobrooks pointed out that the funding burden for Kirwan is falling especially hard on her county and Baltimore — the two jurisdictions with the highest concentration of students who are minorities and who come from low-income families.
“These are the jurisdictions who are least likely to afford the increased local share recommended by the Commission,” she wrote. “So in essence, the transformative education offered by Kirwan might be too costly for children most in need of those transformative promises.”
Alsobrooks said Friday that she has been meeting with legislative leaders in Annapolis and is confident there will be an agreement on the formula. She said Prince George’s is committed to paying its fair share.
“We will come up with a formula that is equitable,” she told the state delegation. “We will come up with one that is sustainable, and one that is responsible.”