The Montgomery County Board of Education last night [Monday, June 23] voted unanimously to strongly urge Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich, Jr., and the leaders of the General Assembly to fully fund the Bridge to Excellence in Public Schools Act. The Board urged “all public education stakeholders to join” in a campaign to protect the state funding.
The Board, in a resolution introduced by Patricia B. O'Neill, president, said it “recognizes the difficult fiscal situation facing the state, but remains vigilant in its commitment to ensuring full funding of the Bridge to Excellence legislation.” Specifically, the Board noted that for additional state aid to be implemented in FY 2005 and beyond, the General Assembly, beginning in 2004, must affirm by an adopted joint resolution that the additional state aid for education is within the state's fiscal resources.
The state funding is certainly necessary. Citing the findings and recommendations of the Commission on Education Finance, Equity, and Excellence (Thornton Commission), the Board noted that per pupil funding by the state is already “significantly inadequate.” For that reason, the Maryland General Assembly, during the 2002 legislative session, overwhelmingly approved the Bridge to Excellence in Public Schools Act, which carried out the vision of the Thornton Commission by substantially increasing State aid to education.
“The Bridge to Excellence law addresses programs within the public education system that provide funding for students in Montgomery County and across the state with special needs, including those students with disabilities, students who speak English as a second language, and low-income students,” the Board resolution said.
“We urge all Montgomery County citizens to join with the Board of Education by writing to Maryland's Governor, Senate President, and Speaker of the House to urge their support of full funding of the Bridge to Excellence in Public Schools Act for FY 2005 and beyond,” the Board said in a note accompanying the addresses for each of the three office holders.
The Honorable Robert Ehrlich, Jr.
Annapolis, MD 21401
The Honorable Michael Busch
Speaker, Maryland House of Delegates
101 State House
Annapolis MD 21401
The Honorable Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr.
President, Maryland Senate
H-107 State House
Annapolis, MD 21401