Sunday, March 6, 2011

Cut or Not to Cut?...Changing the Thornton Education Funding Formula

As a result of budget shortfalls for the next fiscal year, Governor O’Malley has proposed altering the “Thornton” formula, which calculates per pupil spending, and thus how much money is allocated to each school district. The Thornton formula was established in 2002 and focused on allocated funding based on student needs. The original formula included an adjustment each year for inflation, but in 2008, the inflation component was removed to save money for the state, which in effect reduced the amount of education funding each year for the past three years already. Now by, by changing Thornton, per pupil funding will be reduced, which equates to even more cuts to the education budget in Maryland.

Baltimore City Schools anticipates the proposed change to the Thornton formula would equal a $15 million dollar cut to its budget. And because BCPSS has already made cuts to the central office in recent years, most of the budget cuts would be passed on to schools. This could mean almost a 10% cut to each schools budget, which could lead to teacher layoffs, increases in class size, the elimination of the arts and after school programs, and recent initiatives, such as pre-k expansion, to be halted or abandoned indefinitely.

Each state must have a balanced budget, unlike the federal government, who can run a deficit. Governor O’Malley must make cuts, but cutting anything in the state budget will incur criticism. Do you think in today’s economic recession that O’Malley is justified in the education cuts and that everyone must “feel the pain” or do you think K-12 education should be shielded from such cuts? If you think education should be shielded, where do you think O’Malley should cut in order to balance his budget?

1 comment:

Garima Bhatt said...

As a teacher in Baltimore City my initial thoughts are that education funding should not be compromised. However, there are thousands of employees in Baltimore City who are extremely concerned about their positions as well. My opinion is biased because I personally could be affected by the 15 million dollar cut. In tough financial times the government has difficult decisions to make about where to cut money. Teaching is an extremely important job in the city but there are numerous impactful and meaningful jobs. I think that the only "fair" way to handle the situation is to make tiny cuts from every area. Instead of cutting 15 million from the city schools, maybe the governor can find a way to cut a smaller amount and make cuts from other departments as well. The city might want to consider creating a survey or finding a way to poll residents of Baltimore City to find out where cuts should and should not be made. The governer needs to find a way to include the people in such dire circumstances.