Maryland Marijuana, New Carrollton, School Budget Flow (Demo)

Marijuana lobby sets sight on decriminalizing Marijuana in Maryland, Prince George’s County Planning Board makes way for Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development‘s move to Prince George’s County (New Carrollton), new school funding policy gives Principals more control over budgets
Marijuana plantThe next Maryland General Assembly will include legislation to decriminalize marijuana if The Marijuana Policy Project and a Baltimore State Senator Bobby Zirkin get their way.  “The Marijuana Policy Project announced this week that Maryland and nine other states will be targets of a renewed push for marijuana policy reform. That means legislation like the decriminalization bill introduced by state Sen. Bobby Zirkin, D-Baltimore County, may have a better chance of making progress in the next General Assembly session.  Zirkin’s bill failed to come to a vote in the House this spring but he plans to re-introduce the bill next year, and may even go a step further and propose legislation that would put the decision in voters’ hands by referendum, he said. “What I’m proposing is not some radical proposition,” Zirkin said. “It’s been done in a variety of states all across the country. The results have been studied. It’s not a hard argument.” Zirkin’s decriminalization bill would have changed marijuana possession of less than 10 grams from a criminal to a civil offense. Instead of facing up to 90 days in jail and a $500 fine, perpetrators would pay a maximum $100 fine. It was supported by a 30-16 bipartisan vote in the Maryland Senate.  Zirkin said he met with representatives from the Marijuana Policy Project and the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland earlier this week to discuss plans for moving forward.” Story from The Frederick News Post.
New Carrollton Metro TrainNew Carrollton is going to be something, looks like real soon.  From the Washington Post: The construction of the new headquarters of the Maryland housing agency in New Carrollton is a step closer. The planning board vote on Thursday moved forward the first phase of the plan, which calls for the construction of 556 residential units and 200,000 square feet of office and retail spaces. The developer plans to build a mix of studio, 1 and 2 bedroom apartments units in a community with amenities that include a swimming pool and a gym.
 Kevin Berman, a developer with Berman Enterprises, said the developing team is moving to keep up with the scheduled opening of the new building in June 2015. When built, the housing department will be the first state agency based in Prince George’s. “We are pushing ahead,” Berman said after the planning board vote Thursday afternoon. A second phase will add up to 2,400 residential units, 100,000 square feet of retail and a 300-room hotel, the developer said.  The Prince George’s County Planning Board on Thursday unanimously approved key elements of the project, allowing the developer to move forward with the grading and permitting process.
School ClassroomIn the past, principals had control over about 2 percent of their school’s budget. As the county has phased in student-based budgeting during the past couple of years, principals have gained control of 50 percent of their budgets, a huge swing, the Washington Post reported.  Prince George’s is one of about a dozen school districts across the country — mostly large, urban districts including Boston, Baltimore and New York City — that have not only altered how schools are funded but also have changed who decides how the money is spent. Prince George’s is the only school system in the Washington region using such a student-based approach.  Instead of providing each school with the same amount of money based on the number of students and staff, the school system uses a formula that also considers the type of students attending each school. A school with a large number of students from poor families receives more funding to meet the needs of those students.
 “It’s more equitable,” said Ellen Foley, senior counsel at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University. “The downside is that we are trying to cut up an education pie that is not equitable. You don’t have enough to go around.”

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