Contracted out: How Maryland school districts do business

The data compiled in this dataset was provided by all of the 24 public school districts in Maryland. The data provides records of vendors that receive payments of $25,000 or more during a fiscal year from a board of education in the state. Chapter 541 of the Acts of 2019 requires each county school board must annually report (1) the name of a payee receiving a payment; (2) the location of a payee by postal zip code; (3) the amount of a payment; (4) for the Baltimore County Board of Education, the purpose for the payment and whether the payee is a minority business enterprise; and (5) for the Prince George's County Board of Education, the budget data prepared under § 5-101 of the Education Article.

The bill defines a “payee” as any party who receives an aggregate payment of $25,000 in a fiscal year from a school board.

A “payee” does not include:

(1) a public school employee with respect to the employee's compensation;

(2) a public school retiree with respect to the retiree's retirement allowance;

(3) in Baltimore County, a third-party payee that accepts specified employee payroll-related payments.

While most of that data was published on the state's Open Data Portal, huge chunks of it were missing until students at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism, led by lecturer Jerry Zremski, demanded it. Other students and Derek Willis, lecturer in data and computational journalism, then cleaned up and standardized the data so that each vendor was listed under the same name. You can download the data here.

All questions in regards to this data should be directed to the Maryland Department of Budget and Management or the individual boards of education.