ANNAPOLIS, MD—Governor Larry Hogan and State Superintendent Karen Salmon on Monday announced $210 million in additional funding to help Maryland schools and students most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding, allocated through the federal CARES Act, will be used to ensure that more students have access to remote learning, and expand targeted tutoring initiatives for at-risk students.
“For six straight years, we have provided historically high state funding for our schools, while fighting for more accountability for Maryland parents, teachers, and taxpayers, and working to achieve better results for our children,” said Governor Hogan. “Education has been, and will continue to be, our administration’s highest priority. While many states have already seen significant cuts and layoffs, in Maryland, we are going to do everything we possibly can to level-fund K-12 education.”
“Long-standing gaps in educational opportunity and access have been further exposed and widened by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Superintendent Salmon. “Our goal with these resources is to give local school systems the support and flexibility to help ensure that students most impacted during the crisis receive intense focus and priority in our recovery efforts. I want to thank the governor for recognizing the importance of these initiatives as we work to support our students, educators, parents, and community partners.”
In total, the governor has now committed more than $255 million in CARES Act funding for education priorities.
To address the digital divide, Governor Hogan and Superintendent Salmon have allocated $100 million to be made available to local school systems to ensure that students have access to the most up-to-date devices and connectivity. It is estimated that student devices need to be replaced when they are over four years old. Local school systems must also take into account having the staff necessary to deploy and maintain devices. Having this infrastructure in place is critical to the state’s long-term recovery from COVID-19.
In order to deal with learning loss due to time away from direct instruction and teacher intervention, Governor Hogan and Superintendent Salmon have allocated $100 million for local school systems that implement tutoring and learning programs designed to help students in need. Research has shown that the rate of learning gain can be improved with intensive tutoring. At-risk students are most often identified based on math and reading scores that are significantly below their grade level.
The Governor’s Office of Rural Broadband will construct a wireless education network for students’ use in Western Maryland, Southern Maryland, and on the Eastern Shore. This network will initially be constructed in the areas that currently lack broadband service, but could be expanded to cover other areas of the state where access may be limited for other reasons. The state is proposing a wireless, Long-Term Evolution (LTE) network using frequency provided by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for educational purposes, or available unlicensed frequencies. In total, the governor has now committed $20 million in CARES Act funding to expand rural broadband and an additional $5 million for urban broadband.