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Journalism Investigation Surveys Maryland School District Spending, Creates Public Database

By UMD Local News Network

Billions of local, state and federal tax dollars go to funding Maryland’s public schools every year—and now, it will be easier to find out how your local school district spent that money.

The Local News Network at the University of Maryland has published an easily searchable database where you can look up any school district’s vendor payments over the past four years.

That database and an accompanying series of stories comprise “Contracted Out,” a project compiled by students and faculty at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism. The database provides a comprehensive and unprecedented itemization of school contract spending statewide.

"'Contracted Out' was a massive team effort," said Local News Network Director Jerry Zremski, who assembled the project based on the work of 55 journalism students. "Thanks to our work here, for the first time, Marylanders can easily spot trends—and trouble—in the spending decisions made by their local school districts."

The “Contracted Out” database contains information from all 24 public school districts in Maryland, with the ability to break out individual districts. The database includes every vendor paid over $25,000 by each district between the 2018-19 and 2021-22 school years, including payments for health insurance, buses, computers and meals.

Key findings from the project include:

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