The Maryland State Department of Education announced that it will grant more than $169 million across the state’s school systems as part of the Maryland Leads Initiative.
The initiative, which aims to use federal funding to address pandemic-related educational issues, will give school systems money to dedicate toward programs across seven strategy categories, including bettering student outcomes, aiding staff recruitment and retention, and strengthening teacher pipelines. All school systems in the state applied for and received funding from the program.
Baltimore County schools will get $10,426,672, and Baltimore City schools will get $9,845,142, the second- and third-highest highest allocations in the state, respectively. Prince George’s County will have the highest amount at $10,768,616.
“All of our districts chose to step up and take on the challenge of the Maryland Leads program, which will seed transformational change. This program provides a critical opportunity to further recover from the pandemic, fuel the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future and lay the foundation for our students’ success in the years to come – well after the pandemic is behind us,” said State Superintendent of Schools Mohammed Choudhury.
“The Maryland Leads program raises the bar in terms of the rigor of program designs, and we expect outstanding outcomes that will accelerate student learning, narrow opportunity and achievement gaps, and provide targeted support for historically underserved students and their communities.”
Systems are required to choose at least two of the seven strategy categories to participate in, but larger investments would be awarded to school systems focused on the categories titled Grow Your Own Staff and the Science of Reading.
Grow Your Own Staff asks systems to create programming that improves their pipelines for educators and school staff; such programming has the potential to bring in more than 300 new teachers, 100 new paraprofessionals as well as infrastructure for more than 400 conditionally certified teachers.
The Science of Reading helps give professional development opportunities to staff members in kindergarten through third grade. Harford and Anne Arundel counties are not participating in the Science of Reading category, according to Lora Rakowski, spokesperson for the state department of education. Both counties submitted proposals for the strategy category, but neither was approved.
Money for the Maryland Leads Initiative comes as part of the state’s allocation of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds, COVID-19 relief dollars granted to schools nationwide.