MABE Scoop

April 2024 | VOL. 3, ISSUE 2

President's Corner

If you're like me, not a day goes by where you're not thinking about or working on Blueprint for Maryland's Future implementation, school system budget work, and an array of the countless projects and initiatives we all take on as dedicated school board members. School board work can sometimes seem like a thankless task, but it's nonetheless among the most important work we will ever do. That's a really important thing to remember, particularly during tougher times, and it's something we collectively share.

On the MABE front, I'm glad to share that MABE's first quarter of this year brought a busy legislative session; MABE headlines; our 2024 Legislative Day Reception; a productive, engaging Educational Equity Committee Workshop; and publication of the latest edition of the Maryland School Law Deskbook. It also included celebration of Maryland School Board Recognition Month; continued progress on MABE cost-saving programs; new MABE Affiliate Members supporting our work; and organizational redesign efforts which MABE Executive Director Milt Nagel shares below. And, of course, planning for MABE Annual Conference 2024 continues in earnest.

This work and other MABE projects could not happen without your involvement, talents and school board expertise. I am so honored to work with such dedicated colleagues, people who make it Priority #1 to champion excellence in public education throughout our state. Thank you for all that you do, and all that you are. Both make such a crucial difference for so many Maryland public schools and potential-filled students.

~ Michelle Corkadel (Anne Arundel County)

MABE President

Executive Director's Update

Things are busy at MABE -- and that's a great thing. In addition to our valued school system members, our continuing efforts heavily rely on MABE staff. On this front, we are continuing our organizational redesign in the interest of re-aligning parts of MABE to best situate us to achieve our strategic goals.

This past fall, we took a deep dive into our existing staff structure and job descriptions, then provided updates and promotions when warranted that best reflect our current needs and priorities. These redesign efforts focus on what is now MABE's Senior Team, consisting of:

Their work, in tandem with the hard work of team members throughout the association, will focus on MABE's mission to provide members with a strong collective voice and support local school board governance through professional development, advocacy and member services.

A part of our organizational redesign includes adding staff, a new route we've carefully thought through. To this end, we're excited to welcome Brianne Rodriguez, a Maryland native who joined the MABE team April 1 as our new Communications & Marketing Associate. Brianne is well-versed in multiple graphic design programs, photography, videography, audio editing and social media. Her energy and enthusiasm are bound to be a terrific addition to our team.

We also just launched a search for skilled support staff to help improve and expand MABE services and deliverables, and will keep you updated as these efforts progress.

Last but certainly not least, we share sincere gratitude for Melanie Lopez, who diligently served as MABE's Legislative Assistant this year. Her work and commitment were greatly valued throughout the 446th Session of the Maryland General Assembly, and we wish her well in all future endeavors.

If you have any questions concerning our organizational redesign or staff structure, please feel free to email me. Thank you in advance for your support. We see great things ahead!

~ Milt Nagel

Executive Director, MABE


Federal Legislation Introduced for $100M Grant Program to Strengthen After-School Programs

U.S. Senators Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.) and Catherine Cortez Masto (Nev.) in March introduced the bipartisan AFTER SCHOOL Act" (S.3980) (or the "Advancing Frequent and Tailored Education to Rebuild Safe Communities and Help Orchestrate Opportunities and Learning Act").

The legislation, referred to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on March 19th, would establish a $100M grant program aimed at strengthening after-school programs while reducing violent crime among young people. School districts may be eligible to receive these funds if the rate of violent offenses committed by juveniles, when compared with the total number of violent offenses committed by all age groups, is more than 10 percent.

A one-page summary of the AFTER SCHOOL Act is available HERE, and bill text is HERE.

Prince George's County Public Schools Grand Prize Winner in 29th Annual Magna Awards Program

Baltimore City Public School System and Montgomery County Public Schools Also Honored

MABE congratulates three of our member school systems for their impressive achievements in this year's Magna Awards, sponsored by the American School Board Journal (ASBJ).

The Magna Awards recognize school districts and leaders "for their innovative, out-of-the-box thinking to address district challenges."

This year's Grand Prize winner for the "Over 20,000 Enrollment" category is Prince George's County Public Schools Specialty Program "Aerospace Engineering and Aviation Technology," which guides students in research to solve real-world challenges, and includes participation in aviation technology and aerospace engineering internships at area businesses.

Two additional MABE school system members also were honored, having earned Silver Awards in the competition's "Over 20,000 enrollment" category. The Baltimore City Public School System received MAGNA Silver Award accolades for its "21st Century School Buildings Program," a multi-phase project which aims to bring system schools up to 21st-century standards. According to ASBJ's April issue, as of September 2023 "nearly all of the [project's] planned 28 new/renovated buildings had been completed, with the remaining buildings due for completion by 2024," thereby completing the first phase of the multi-pronged program.

Montgomery County Public Schools was honored with a MAGNA Silver Award for its "Well-Being Social Work" entry, which according to ASBJ implemented "a targeted approach to addressing the complex mental health needs of the broader student population" via developing "an initiative to provide direct services for mental health supports." The innovative program came in response to post-pandemic needs and the recent removal of school resource officers. The school system's resulting Well-Being Social Workers are members of the School Well-Being Team, described as a multidisciplinary approach to problem-solving academic, behavioral and mental health student needs.

Interesting details of each award-winning project are available HERE for Prince George's County public schools, and HERE for Baltimore City and Montgomery County public schools.

Please join us in sharing well-earned kudos with each Maryland school system honored for their innovative work!

Legal Updates

by Debra Yerg Daniel, MABE Legal & Policy Services Director

Fourth Circuit Ruling on constitutional challenge to Howard

County School Board process for selecting student board member

Kim v. Board of Education involves a constitutional challenge brought by two parents to Howard County Board of Education's process for selecting its student member of the Board (SMOB). On February 8, 2024, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued its decision in the Kim case dismissing the parents' claims. You may find a case summary and basis of the Court's decision here on the MABE Blog.

Oklahoma Supreme Court ruling on whether state can fund religious charter school

On April 2, 2024, the Oklahoma Supreme Court heard a case filed by Oklahoma's Attorney General challenging whether the state can directly fund a religious charter school. Regardless of how the Oklahoma Supreme Court rules, this case is expected to reach the U.S. Supreme Court and could have far-reaching implications if states are allowed to, or required to, fund religious charter schools in the same manner as non-religious charter schools. Additional detail on this case is available here on the MABE blog.

The Child Victims Act of 2023

Please note that we also will be sharing in a separate update details on recent rulings in Prince George's County, Harford County and Montgomery County concerning the constitutionality of the Child Victims Act's elimination of the limitations period for filing claims for child sexual abuse.

As always, we appreciate your interest. Please feel free to contact me with any related questions.

What is "pooling," and why are so many Maryland school systems members of MABE insurance pools?

by Melanie Wernig, MABE Operations Director

Did you know 20 of Maryland's public school systems participate in an insurance pool through MABE for either Workers Compensation coverage, Property Casualty coverage, or both? So what is pooling?

Overview of Pooling

Public entity pools, formed in the 1980s when most commercial insurers abandoned the public entity market, reduce and stabilize long-term insurance costs and ensure access to coverage and service(s) needed. Not-for-profit, member-owned and member-driven, they harness the power of group leverage. Importantly, pools provide services, coverage and risk management tools with the singular goal of serving their membership.

Today, risk-sharing pools have surpassed commercial insurance for public entities because they demonstrate effective government collaboration. They continue to be a successful best option for Public Entities. The Association of Governmental Risk Pools (AGRIP) estimates that at least 80 percent of all local public entities participate in one or more risk pools. They have sustained strong fiscal performance, created new coverages, and reduced risk by helping members focus on risk management as an operational priority.

Digging deeper into pooling benefits

Pools have saved taxpayers billions of dollars, savings created by several factors:

  • Unlike commercial insurers, pools add no profit margin to rates.
  • Pools have significantly lower administration costs than commercial insurers.
  • Most importantly, pools emphasize helping members avoid and reduce losses. Pools do not sell insurance as a commodity; rather, pools focus on long-term cost containment created by long-term focus on risk management, loss control, and effective claim management.

Pools also generate innovations in coverage for their members, and MABE members are no exception. Pool members are not just insurance policyholders; they are owners of the pool. This means that pool members rely on one another not just for coverage, claims management and loss control but also for new ideas, best practices and solving problems.

So now you know the basics of what pools are and why they're a trusted resource. Be sure to keep an eye out in the next MABE Scoop issue for what MABE members say are their Top 10 values of belonging to a pool through MABE Insurance Programs. For further details, please feel free to contact me at any time!

In Memoriam: Dr. Theresa Stafford (1953-2023)

It is with deep sadness that we mourn the December 2023 passing of lifelong educator Theresa Stafford, Ph.D., following a lengthy and brave battle against cancer.

Viewed by so many as a "local hero" and true community pillar of Cambridge and Dorchester County, Dr. Stafford was a passionate child advocate, served as a public school teacher for close to 40 years, and was elected to the Dorchester County Board of Education in 2022. She also was incredibly active in her community, having served on the Dorchester County Citizens Review Board for Children and on Cambridge's Planning and Zoning Commission. Named Executive director of New Beginnings Youth and Family Services in 2016, Dr. Stafford also fostered many children, having first become a foster parent in 2004. She and her husband Lewis H. Stafford Sr. celebrated their 40th anniversary this past October.

A University of Maryland Eastern Shore graduate, Dr. Stafford earned her master's in education from Salisbury University, and doctorate in educational innovation and educational leadership from Wilmington University. She also possessed associates degrees in Applied Science in Paralegal Studies - Litigation, Arts in Law and Jurisprudence and Arts Transfer Studies. Dr. Stafford was a sergeant first class, and served 22 years in the Maryland Army National Guard. Perhaps unsurprisingly, her final duty assignment was "as an instructor, teaching non-commissioned officers how to be effective teachers in the classroom," according to The Star Democrat.

Dr. Stafford is sorely missed by family, friends and colleagues. She left an indelible imprint on so many lives. In lieu of flowers, her family requests that donations be made in her honor to New Beginnings Youth and Family Services; donations may be made via Cash App to $begin4kids.


Note: Some news clips may require subscriptions.

WBAL (3/5)

Baltimore County Board of Education unanimously approves new boundaries for some elementary schools, meant to ease overcapacity; 94% of polled parents approve

WBAL (3/14)

Interview with Anne Arundel County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Mark Bedell

News 4 at 5 (3/26)

COVID ripple effect still being felt: MSDE 2022-2023 data indicates Maryland public school graduations have declined, state dropout rate up from 8.5% to 10%

WBFF (3/7)

Baltimore City Public Schools, the Baltimore Ravens and anti-hunger organizations come together as part of National School Breakfast Week

WBOC (3/20)

Wicomico County Public Schools implementing career coaches for students

WMDT (3/17)

6 Maryland Bay Coastal Scholarships available to Worcester County Public Schools seniors interested in environmental studies field

Washington Post (3/14)

Father of Oxford school shooter found guilty of involuntary manslaughter

The Diamondback (3/13)

PGCPS to expand pre-K as part of statewide education plan

Maryland Matters (2/20)

State to hand out $111M in behavioral health care grants

Montgomery County Public Schools: To the Point

The Blueprint for Maryland's Future

Capital News Service (3/19)

Maryland's teacher shortage: Will the Blueprint's plan for better pay, training do enough?

Maryland Matters (3/22)

New Blueprint funding requirements are coming for Maryland school systems

The policy, called the minimum school funding requirement, will go into effect for school systems on July 1.

WBOC (3/11)

Maryland sports wagering gives boost to education

$65.2M contributed to Blueprint since December 2021 inception of MD's sports wagering program

Maryland Daily Record (3/11)

4th Circuit upholds unconstitutionality of Howard County School Board student selection process

WTOP (3/6)

Child Victims Act stands: Maryland judge rules state law that eliminated deadlines on bringing child sexual abuse lawsuits against Catholic clergy is unconstitutional

Argument over the law will end up before the Maryland Supreme Court

New York Times (2/1)

An autistic school board member sued for discrimination. She won $10.


Supreme Court rejects Thomas Jefferson high school admissions case

NPR (3/14)

After higher education Supreme Court decision, conservatives target DEI

Washington Post (2/25)

Supreme Court offers possible road map for schools to diversify top programs

Considering race is not allowed, but court signals that socioeconomic factors are acceptable.

Education Week (3/15)

When blocking social media critics, school officials have protections, Supreme Court says

New America Blog (3/25)

Federal Update: The latest in federal early education news

Garrett County Public Schools (2/14)

Release: Garrett County Public Schools to implement equity advisory board

The Education Trust (3/1)

Navigating the promise and peril of AI for students of color

Education Next (2/12)

Doing educational equity right: School discipline

The Education Trust (3/31)

Joint statement from equity-minded education organizations on the President's FY25 Budget

NYT (2/1)

See how your school district is recovering from the pandemic

Education Week (3/25)

What would happen to K-12 in a 2nd Trump Term?

Sen. Thom Tillis site (3/26)

Release: Tillis, colleagues introduce bill to improve schools' access to mental health grants


National Governors Association (3/14)

State education trends for 2024

WMAR (3/6)

Connecticut may become first state to entirely ban cell phones in public schools

The 74 (3/4)

Coalition challenges residency requirements for public schools

abc News (2/29)

'Not a partisan issue': As classroom culture wars rage, a stark warning about learning loss

Salon (3/4)

Experts worry Trump's school vaccine plan will spark "public health catastrophe"


President Biden's ambition to flood K-12 schools with tutors and mentors facing challenges

WMAR (3/20)

Alabama lawmakers have passed a bill that would prohibit public schools and universities from maintaining or funding diversity, equity and inclusion programs

The 74 (3/4)

Governors' 2024 education priorities: Early childhood, curriculum, school choice, mental health

TechExpert (2/8)

Tech trends in high school classrooms: What's changing education?

U.S. News & World Report (2/8)

11 online learning trends to know about

April 15th Deadline for MABE "Excellence in Education Award" Nominations

The Maryland Association of Boards of Education "Excellence in Education Award," established in 2012 to honor then-retiring Executive Director Carl. W. Smith, honors an individual who has demonstrated exemplary leadership and service to public education in Maryland.

The service of nominees for this distinguished award may have impacted a single school system, multiple systems, or the entire state. Examples of potential recipients may include but are not limited to city, county, or state elected officials; community college or university leaders; volunteer organization leaders; or leaders from the non-profit or corporate world.

Please click HERE for award criteria and the award nomination form. Note that nominations must be submitted to Milt Nagel no later than April 15, 2024. The Awards Committee will review all nomination forms and make a decision no later than May 16, 2024.

Please consider nominating a leader in Maryland public education efforts for this high honor.

MABE Annual Conference 2024 at The Westin Annapolis is shaping up to be a winner!

Be sure to mark your calendars for Oct. 7-9, 2024.

Additional Conference details coming shortly!

MABE | Website

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