A new report revealed that nearly $24 million was misallocated in the local and state school systems in Maryland. This money comes straight from the taxpayer’s pockets, benefitting schools but taking away money that should be going to public service.
At the beginning of each school year, the Maryland state education department collects attendance data from every district. In order to be eligible for aid from the state, the individual student must be present at least once during the month. If this is done incorrectly, funds that were otherwise allocated to transportation, sanitation, and other things taxpayer’s pay for are given to the school district.
A recent scheme in Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Arts uncovered over 100 “ghost students” who were allegedly enrolled in the school, including a student in jail. “Ghost students” are students who generally don’t exist or have previously graduated. These students are still counted present for attendance, resulting in illegal funding for the school. At this school, students who have graduated since 2017 were still enrolled in classes. The Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Arts prompted the Inspector General for Education to investigate all Maryland public school districts.
Upon further investigation into the issue, Baltimore City Public schools was one of the four districts identified in Maryland in the report published by the Office of the Inspector General for Education involved in a massive miscalculation.
From 2016-2021, over 3,000 ghost students were counted in Maryland public schools. Specifically in Baltimore City Public Schools, reports found that over 900 students were considered eligible for state funding but had not met the attendance requirement. As many as 500 of those students had not attended school at all during the school year. Ultimately, Baltimore City Public School’s mistake resulted in almost $10 million in state and local funding being misallocated.
Something seemingly small, such as incorrectly taking attendance, cost taxpayers millions of dollars. Baltimore City Public Schools have not made a statement regarding this issue.