The Support Our Schools (SOS) Initiative is a grassroots advocacy effort devoted to increasing awareness of and support for the needs, challenges, and untapped potential of our public school system—both for the sake of the current student population and for its opportunity to serve as a catalyst for economic development.
- To fully fund the annual school budget which will allow the School Board to proactively improve our schools and provide the resources needed to improve services to our students and to properly compensate our teachers
- To raise awareness of the fact that strong public schools are essential to attracting young families to the county—thereby bolstering our economy, increasing real estate values, and revitalizing our workforce
- To promote our schools and share news and successes with our families and community
IN THE NEWS
Occasionally SOS gets mentioned in the press. We’ve collected our small shining moments of fame in our Press Section.
WHY SUPPORT OUR SCHOOLS?
Because our schools are great.
District leadership, administrators, and teachers are united in vision and effort. Our district is doing a lot with limited resources.
- Universal Full-day Pre-K (the first district to provide it in the state of Maryland)
- Ranked #1 in Maryland for Kindergarten Readiness (the direct result of universal Pre-K)
- 1-to-1 technology (each student is assigned an individual tablet or computer)
- Dual track CTE/College Prep grads (exceeding statewide goals by 25%)
And because our schools have critical needs.
No degree of effort can make up for budget shortfalls. Our most pressing priorities include:
- More support staff. It’s impossible for a single teacher to adequately address the dramatically different needs of their strongest and most challenged students. The district is in dire need of additional mental health specialists, therapists, and teacher aides to ensure all students receive the best possible education.
- More after-school programming. Many of our students go home to empty houses. After-school programming provides help with homework, social support, and—through such supplemental activities as science club—reinforces academic development in a non-school context, allowing students to build a love of learning while staying out of trouble.
- More Wrap-around services. Many district students are homeless, in foster care, or below the poverty level. Staff are needed to coordinate support for these students and their families, whether social services, family counseling, food bank, or daycare. Challenging family situations are felt in the classroom. Providing this help to our neediest families benefits all students.
SOS is working hard at the state and local levels to help secure adequate funding for our students and teachers. We partnered with Strong Schools Maryland to lobby in Annapolis in support of the Kirwan Commission, resulting in passage of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future. This landmark, once in a generation legislation will bring much needed resources to our schools starting in the 2021/2022 school year. We will continue to work to make sure the Blueprint is funded every year, and to make sure Kent County is represented when funding is decided.
SOS Requests of our County Government
SOS continues to ask our county leadership to fund our schools. Past promises for efficiency and fiscal responsibility have gone unfulfilled. We continue to press our local officials to do better for our children and align their priorities to ensure each and every child receives the best education we can give them. Our requests are:
- A comprehensive county-wide efficiency study to identify opportunities to streamline processes, procedures, and eliminate duplication of services.
- A County Communications/Public Relations Director to support all Kent County departments (including Economic Development and Education) on brand building and image to attract new businesses and citizens.
- Fully funding the annual KCPS proposed budget submitted by Dr. Couch and the Board of Education.
- Break ground on at least one new school to replace the aging facilities that currently make up our physical plant.
FILLING THE GAPS IN SCHOOL FUNDING
The Random Acts of Kindness campaign has contributed over $14,000 to our schools since it’s inception in 2017.
We want every student to participate fully in all the experiences our schools have to offer and make sure that no child is ever hungry – our Principals are helping every day to make that possible. During the pandemic shut down, Random Acts funds were used to provide supplies and offset costs to local volunteer organizations that offered their facilities and supervision to children in need of a place to go to access online learning.
WHAT IS MAINTENANCE OF EFFORT (MOE)?
One of the FY19 BOE budget requests was an increase in Maintenance of Effort or MOE. Since a lot of people don’t know what MOE is (we didn’t until a few years ago!) we thought we would share this short video that does a great job explaining it and how when the MOE level stays relatively the same every year it is actually a decrease in the funding being provided.
Click to download PDF – SOS KC Budget 2020 FINAL 041619
If you see potential solutions, speak up! The Board of Ed and County Commissioners can’t know what we’re thinking if we don’t tell them.
Our current Board of Ed members and their contact info can be found HERE. Our current County Commissioners (who are the ones who hold the purse strings for our schools) can be found HERE.
Board of Ed meetings are held the second Monday of the month at 5608 Boundary Avenue in Rock Hall at 6:30 p.m. The County Commissioners meet every other Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the Commissioners’ Hearing Room, at 400 High Street in Chestertown (unless otherwise advertised). Public comment usually happens at the end of meetings. If enough people show up for a given topic, they will often move public comment to coincide with their discussion.
STRONG SCHOOLS MARYLAND
SOS supports the efforts of Strong Schools Maryland
Strong Schools Maryland is leading the statewide, grassroots campaign in Maryland to create a world-class education system for every student, especially those who are disproportionately affected by policies because of race, poverty, language, and disability.
Visit the Strong Schools Maryland website for more information.
SUPPORT OUR SPONSORS
Kent County Comprehensive Plan
In the most recent Comprehensive Plan, providing resources for “a high-quality system of public and private schools” was listed as one of the guiding principles of the plan (see page 2) and improvements in public education were listed as the third primary objective under “Economy” (see page 13 for visioning).
Economic Development and Public Education
- The Economic Implications of Howard County’s (MD) State-Leading School System – 2016 study done by the Sage Policy Group which includes a lot of in-state comparisons
- The Economic Value of Anne Arundel County (MD) Public School System – 2014 study estimating the economic, employment and fiscal impact of the Anne Arundel County Public School System
- The Impacts of the Montgomery County (MD) Public Schools’ Proposed 2016 Budget – 2015 study strictly examining how the budget monies flow back into the local and state economy, disregarding school performance (though it is briefly noted that the public schools provide “the essential educational services that contribute to Montgomery County’s reputation as the best place to live and raise a family withing the State and as having the best-educated workforce in the state”)
- Economic Impact of the Publicly Funded K-12 Education on the Eastern Shore of Maryland – 2012 legislative handout outlining return on investment in three categories
- The Economic Impact of Changes in Public School Funding on the Eastern Shore of Maryland – interactive graphs based on studies by BEACON at Salisbury University. Click on the County by County tab and move the Percentage Funding Change slider on the left to see how changes in funding effect the economic return (again, strictly in terms of money flow back into the economy, disregarding school performance)
- A Well-Educated Workforce is Key to State Prosperity – 2013 study for the Economic Analysis and Research Network (see “major findings” bullet points)
- The Impact of Local Public Education on Economic Development, Greater Richmond Region, Virginia – 2013 study examining the impact of schools in city versus county settings
- The Social and Economic Benefits of Public Education, Pennsylvania – 2009 study published for the Education Law Center, regarding state-wide public school investment
- Cutting to the Bone: How the Economic Crisis Affects Schools – 2011 report published by the Center for Public Education that serves as a good primer on why significant cuts in public education have been made in state governments and how it has affected local government funding as well