If you're keeping up with the budget, you're probably curious what Maintenance of Effort is.
Well, what is it? Maintenance of Effort is essentially a state law that sets a funding "floor" for county governments. It requires them to spend at least the same amount per student as the previous fiscal year. More students (such as the projected increase of 2,585 in 2012) results in more money.
This year's Maintenance of Effort requirement is $10,664 per student. What does that mean? Well, it means that we spent $10,664 per student in fiscal year 2010. Why 2010? Last year we didn't meet Maintenance of Effort and faced a possible fine. Luckily, the fine was waived. So, the requirement for Maintenance of Effort this year is at the level from 2010.
What have we learned? Well, in 2010 we tried to shift $79 million in school construction debt into the operating budget. However, the Attorney General said this was illegal because it "artificially" satisfies the Maintenance of Effort requirement.
How is this issue important this year? Well, the county needs to provide $1.497 billion in local funding. Otherwise, we could face a penalty of up to $27 million in loss of increased state aid.
To sum it all up, the County Council is our local funding body. As stakeholders in the school system, it is important that we convey and emphasize the importance of being funded at Maintenance of Effort level.
So, to the County Council: please fund us at Maintenance of Effort level! Our educational system needs it, even in such dire economic times. Thank you!