Photo by hd3dsh/

A draft implementation of Maryland’s multi-billion dollar education reform plan that lawmakers approved last year is expected to be released next month.

The comprehensive reforms focus on five areas or pillars: expanding early childhood education, creating a diverse workforce with high-quality teachers, improving college and career readiness, providing resources supplements to some students and maintain accountability.

The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Accountability and Implementation Board continues to host working sessions with input from education experts, school officials, and early childhood service providers.

This week the council discussed a proposal to secure funding to ensure that children aged 3 and 4 with disabilities, homeless students and those from homes where English is not the primary language receive a free full-time pre-kindergarten.

The current funding formula did not include some of these children whose families may not meet the state’s low-income requirements.

Rachel Hise, the group’s executive director and longtime legislative policy analyst, said the money to expand free pre-K could be applied through a budget maneuver this fiscal year or could go into effect. the next year.

The adjustment would require a statutory change to the law, which the new General Assembly could undertake when it meets in January.

“These are details that will have to be ironed out,” she said.

A few programs slated to start under already approved Blueprint plans include a $2.5 million allocation for a “Teacher Collaboration Grant Program”; extension and transfer of half-day preschool slots to full-day slots; and quality teacher professional development.

The council assessed dozens of other recommendations for early years and teachers presented in colorful charts, including:

  • School districts may lease commercial space to house pre-K students if public space is not available.
  • The design and implementation of a centralized pre-kindergarten registration system.
  • A “coordinated and equitable” plan by the Department of Education to establish early years centers in communities where access is limited or where centers are not located.
  • A statewide clearinghouse with real-time data from school districts on job vacancies.
  • Publication of teacher quality and diversity programs at historically black colleges and universities.
  • Support and development of paraprofessionals to become certified teachers.

The board will hold another working session on Tuesday to focus on college and career readiness and consider additional resources for select students.

Two other meetings are scheduled for September 29 and October 13. A few days after the October session, a draft implementation plan should be published.

A public hearing is scheduled for November after the legislative elections. A final overall plan would be approved by the Blueprint Implementation Board by December 1.

Board Chairman and former Montgomery County Executive Isiah “Ike” Leggett reminded those in attendance Thursday and who will attend future meetings how they will be structured.

“We are not questioning the Blueprint. We went through an exhaustive legislative process that took years,” he said. “That’s not to say we’re not open to changes or adjustments, but they should be very solid and something we should be looking at very seriously. The idea now is how we can move forward with the plan that was adopted by the General Assembly. »