Why Anne Arundel Should Invest More in Schools

Why Anne Arundel Should Invest More in Schools

Public schools are critically important assets for all communities, including Anne Arundel County.  The county government appropriates more than $700 million a year in local funds for its schools, supporting more than 80,000 students and 10,000 employees.

The county’s local contribution per pupil is higher than many other counties in Maryland and county leaders have made progress over the last two years.  But Anne Arundel County can and should do even better on school funding for the following reasons:

The county is one of the wealthiest jurisdictions in Maryland.

  • For the most recent years available, the county ranks third in net taxable income per capita, fifth in growth of net taxable income over the last decade, sixth in assessable base per capita, third in growth of assessable base over the last decade and fifth in wealth per student.
  • Despite the above, the county ranks 12th of 24 local jurisdictions in Maryland in the percentage of its local wealth it spends on schools.

Enrollment in Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS) has grown by 10% over the last decade, the third highest growth rate in Maryland.

  • The percentages of students who are English language learners and who need free and reduced price meals are growing steadily, illustrating rising needs in the schools.
  • Despite that, over the last twelve fiscal years, growth in the county’s local per pupil contribution fell short of inflation six times. Over the 2010-2021 period, the local per pupil contribution went up by 21% while prices in the Baltimore metro area increased by 19%.  That means that the county’s local per pupil contribution is barely keeping up with inflation at a time of rising needs.

Since FY10, the county’s local contribution to schools has grown more slowly than its general fund and the unduplicated total of all its funds.

  • Most major functions of county government have seen their budgets grow faster than the county’s local contribution to schools.
  • In 14 of the last 17 fiscal years, the county received more in general fund revenues than it projected in its approved budgets. On average, even including the three years of shortfall, actual general fund revenues exceeded budgeted revenues by $31 million a year.  None of this extra money was used to increase budgeted general fund appropriations for AACPS.
  • As of the end of FY20, the county’s fund balances were at or near all-time highs. That means that, at least as of June 30, 2020, the pandemic recession did not significantly damage the county’s fund balances.

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