Gov. William Donald Schaefer supports a range of new education programs, including mandatory kindergarten and special grants linked to school performance, says Joseph L. Shilling, state school superintendent.
But, Shilling said, it is still uncertain how much funding will be included in the fiscal 1992 budget for those items.
Schaefer voiced support for several education initiatives at a meeting with Shilling earlier this week, the educator said. Schaefer assured the superintendent that "these are things that he is in support of, and he wants to try to see if there is any way to do all of it."
Yesterday in Annapolis, Schaefer said he is high on Shilling's initiatives. In general, the governor said of Shilling: "He's not afraid to step up and say, 'Status quo, we're not making the progress we should.' "
Shilling said there was no iron-clad funding commitment from Schaefer for the initiatives, some of which could cost millions of dollars.
Shilling said that at the meeting Schaefer said he would support:
* A $31 million program of "School Improvement Challenge Grants" intended to help individual schools that fail to meet educational standards set in the state's annual school "report card." Shilling said continuing grants to individual schools would be tied to significant improvements in school performance.
Shilling called the proposal the most important initiative, saying it is "a radical departure from the way we've financed education in the past," since it links funding and improved performance.
* Mandatory kindergarten attendance for all children, an initiative that would require legislation. Currently, all school districts must offer kindergarten, but attendance is optional.
* Prekindergarten programs for all eligible disadvantaged students. Shilling said he was seeking about $6.6 million for an additional 111 school sites in the coming year, which would serve about 4,400 students.
* Enhanced computer capacity to collect data required by the Maryland School Performance Program, the annual report card on the schools.