The Capital concluded its editorial on the upcoming Kirwan Commission recommendations with the observation that “It’s clear more money is coming for schools. Pay attention if you want to know how much it will cost you” (The Capital, Dec. 27) This advice is harder for citizens to follow than is generally understood.

To date, the Kirwan Commission hasn’t made recommendations to provide the public with more accurate and accessible data about K12 staff compensation, which constitutes some 80 percent of local school budgets and the bulk of the Kirwan Commission’s budget requests.

Yet both the Anne Arundel County and Maryland state school boards routinely provide the public with highly misleading staff compensation statistics.

The public needs to demand that both the county and state provide:

  • Comprehensive raw compensation data rather than the highly politicized versions usually made available when requested under the Public Information Act.
  • Accurate and complete information about the methodologies, including key assumptions, used to calculate the publicized compensation statistics.
  • Compensation statistics that include a compensation distribution chart (including highest paid employee) for each bargaining unit.
  • All this information publicly and online so that citizens seeking it need not both fear retribution and have a large budget to sue when agencies don’t provide the requested data.

The public must also demand that the Maryland General Assembly eliminate the many loopholes and conflicting laws that restrict public access to essential compensation data. For details on both Anne Arundel County and Maryland, see the K12 Public School Compensation Transparency website.

Source: Snider, J.H., Schools must improve spending transparency, Capital, January 3, 2019. Note: this is a letter-to-the-editor, not article.