Prince George's Will Need $360M to Fund Education Equity Plan

"We're gonna pay for Kirwan anyway:" A Prince George's official says finding money to implement the plan will result in less imprisonment and a larger tax base

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Maryland's new 10-year education plan calls for full-day prekindergarten for low-income kids, higher teacher salaries and more rigorous standards in the classroom. It's also going to cost localities hundreds of millions of dollars over a decade.

The Kirwan plan's name honors the chair of the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, Dr. William Kirwan, who led research into how Maryland can create a world-class education system for every child.

"How does every child without respect for your zip code have the opportunity to have a solid and equal education? That's what Kirwan anticipates so that is the job we have," Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said.

Implementing the plan will be expensive, costing an additional $4 billion from the state and local governments. Prince George's will be footing one of the highest bills under the plan. The county executive told the county's state representatives that the county needs help paying.

"In spite of all our efforts, the truth of the matter is it has not been enough," Alsobrooks said.

By 2030, a number of local governments are expected to fall short of the money they need to contribute based on Kirwan's projections. Prince George's will need to find an additional $360 million in local dollars, compared to Baltimore City's $329 million, Montgomery County's $261 million and Frederick County's $6.3 million.

Governor Larry Hogan has named the plan the Kirwan Tax Hike Commission and says the state does not have the billions of dollars needed to fund the plan's goals.

Dr. Alvin Thornton, Prince George's County's Board of Education Chair, says funding the plan will pay off in the long run.

"We're gonna pay for Kirwan anyway, that's what they have to understand," Thornton said.

"You're gonna pay for it as you're doing now. Imprisonment, juvenile control, lack of income tax payers because they don't have incomes and jobs and degrees. So you're paying for Kirwan now," said Thornton, the namesake of the state's last education equity plan.

Delegates said this week that they are going to spend this legislative session figuring out how to fund the Kirwan plan. Meanwhile in Baltimore, the mayor has already asked city agencies to cut their budgets by 5% so they can find the money.

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