(Jan. 18, 2019) Worcester County, during fiscal 2019, was not the lowest county in Maryland in terms of the per-pupil average for state aid. That honor went to Talbot County.

Talbot, in getting $4,128 per student, was slightly worse off than Worcester, which got $4,217 – the second lowest in the state. Somerset County, by contrast, ranked first in per-pupil aid from the state, getting $13,068.

That’s according to a new study released this month, “Overview of State Aid to Local Governments, Fiscal 2019 Allowance,” developed by the state Department of Legislative Services, Office of Policy Analysis.

In total, Worcester County received $26,586,959 in state funds for education, including about $6.5 million for teachers’ retirement. Worcester ranked last in per-pupil direct aid, $3,176 per student, but first in per-pupil retirement funding, $1,041.

Prince George’s County, which averaged seventh in per-pupil funds received, $9,856, was by far the biggest recipient in terms of total dollars, netting more than $1.2 billion. Baltimore City was second, receiving more than $923 million in total state education aid.

According to the study, a local wealth calculation determines how much state aid to public schools is given. Specifically, property-based wealth is measured against income-based wealth.

Worcester County, it just so happens, has the highest percentage of property-based wealth, 83.7 percent, when compared to income-based wealth.

State aid

In fiscal 2019, the study said, Worcester had $6.25 billion in property-based wealth against $1.2 billion in income-based wealth. The county ranks eighth overall in terms of property wealth, but second-to-last in income-based wealth.

Also factoring into the equation are adjustments for at-risk populations, where Worcester ranked 15th out of 24 counties in terms of per-pupil aid, and per-pupil wealth, where Worcester ranked 13th.

Total school enrollment in the county was 6,304, or 12.3 percent of the total county population of 51,444. The percentage share of the population for school students was fifth lowest in the state.

Based on 2017 demographic numbers, Worcester’s minority population, 34.6 percent, ranked 17th overall. Prince George’s County, 95.8 percent minority, was first overall and Baltimore City, 92 percent minority, was second.

African-Americans accounted for 18.9 percent of the Worcester County population, Hispanic and Latinos were 7.3 percent, Asians totaled 1.9 percent and American Indians accounted for 0.3 percent.

Statewide, public schools received most of the increases in state aid, the study said, with $139 million more in state aid given during fiscal 2019 than during the previous period.

Public schools overall received 75.1 percent of state aid in fiscal 2019, representing more than $5.7 billion. State retirement payments, $797 million, accounted for 10.3 percent of state aid. Counties and municipalities got $735 million (9.5 percent), community colleges received $277 million (3.6 percent), libraries got $60 million (0.8 percent) and local health departments received $50 million (0.7 percent).

The total allowance of state aid for Worcester County in fiscal 2019 was just over $38 million, a 2.2 percent increase from the fiscal 2018 appropriation.

Worcester ranked 22nd in per-capita state aid, netting $745 per person. The statewide average was $1,281.

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