Transparency and collaboration key to Implementing Maryland’s Blueprint for Education in Worcester County

Snow Hill, Maryland (February 21, 2023) – During a virtual meeting with the commissioners and Board of Education leaders, State Accountability and Implementation Board (AIB) members outlined local responsibilities for implementing Maryland’s Blueprint for Education (Blueprint) in Worcester County Public Schools (WCPS). BOE funding transparency and collaboration between the BOE and county government is essential to chart a path forward according to the AIB members. 

“The AIB made clear there is no shortcut to transparency, collaboration, and partnership,” Worcester County Commissioner President Chip Bertino said. “We are committed to working together with the BOE to make the hard decisions necessary to ensure that our students, teachers, and community are best served by the objectives of the Blueprint.”

AIB Chairman Ike Leggett told the group that the Blueprint, “is not easy, it was not conceived to be an easy transition,” but was necessary to improve the quality of education in Maryland.

AIB Vice Chairman Dr. Britt Kirwan, who led the state effort to develop the Blueprint, echoed Leggett’s assessment of the Blueprint’s challenge, “This is difficult because we’re going to have to do things differently than we’ve done it in the past. There’s no question about that. This requires massive change.” Kirwan went on to say the process will require a “tremendous amount of cooperation and collaboration and partnerships in ways in perhaps we haven’t done it in the past.”

In FY24, the commissioners allocated $100 million in Maintenance of Effort (MOE) funding for education. The per pupil MOE funding will not decrease in FY25, though the new local share for the Blueprint is only $73 million. Under the Blueprint, local jurisdictions must fund the local share or MOE, whichever amount is greater.

According to AIB Executive Director Rachel Hise, the local share amount of $73 million was derived by the state as the funding needed to implement the five pillars of the Blueprint in FY25, which includes funding for teachers’ salaries. This amount does not include services or programs outside the Blueprint, like band or athletic activities. 

The new Blueprint continues to base state funding for education on the old wealth formula. This means WCPS will only receive state aid of $1.4 million, the equivalent of $200 per pupil, to implement the Blueprint, according to current BOE member and former WCPS Superintendent Dr. Jon Andes.

“Rural school systems have a different set of needs than urban schools,” Andes said. “We believe in community-based schools, so enrollment at Snow Hill and Pocomoke High Schools is much lower than at Stephen Decatur High School. We need you (AIB) to advocate for us. If you want Blueprint implemented, Worcester County needs more than $200 per pupil.”

Though Blueprint standards were implemented in schools in FY23, certain aspects of the program are still in flux. Most notably, AIB officials are still developing accountability measures to identify how taxpayer dollars allocated to education are being spent and how successfully jurisdictions are meeting the pillars of the Blueprint.

To help identify priorities and allocate funding for programs and initiatives, local officials agreed to apply for a Technical Assistance Grant through the AIB for a strategic facilitator to assist them in making the hard decisions and developing a transparent budget.

Leggett said transparency is imperative, “We’re talking here about taxpayer dollars.”

Difficult discussions and hard decisions will be required by school systems and county governments to ensure the success of Blueprint implementation AIB officials reiterated. AIB officials further stressed that school systems need to rethink how they prioritize and allocate funds. 

Leggett cautioned that funding and the Blueprint will not do everything people want it to do at the local level. He also stated, “There will be difficult decisions.” Leggett went on to say, “it will not be business as usual. You’re not going to be able to fund all of the things people have traditionally wanted to fund. Hard decisions will have to be made either by a reallocation [of funds], doing less, or finding some other resources.”

To view the AIB meeting, visit and click the video index link, “AIB joining the Commissioners’ meeting virtually to discuss Blueprint implementation.”