Academy Curriculum

The Academy of Excellence in Local Governance is a voluntary program open to all local officials in Maryland. Newly elected local officials are especially encouraged to participate. Individuals may take individual classes of their choosing or enroll in the certification program. Participants who are enrolled in the certification program are called ‘Fellows’. To receive the Academy Certificate, they must complete specified core and elective classes in either the municipal or county track.


Municipal Track Information

Fellows in the municipal track complete nine core classes.

  • Basics of Risk Management
  • Conducting Effective Meetings
  • Consensus and Team Building
  • Employment Issues
  • Ethics
  • Municipal Budgeting
  • Open Meetings
  • Public Information Act
  • Structure of Municipal Government

Municipal fellows also complete five elective classes of their choice.

County Track Information

Fellows in the county track complete eight core classes.

  • Basics of Risk Management
  • Conducting Effective Meetings
  • Consensus and Team Building
  • County Financial Management
  • Employment Issues
  • Ethics
  • Open Meetings
  • Public Information Act

County fellows also complete six elective classes of their choice


Core Curriculum

Academy core classes provide a basic body of knowledge for local officials to effectively carry out their responsibilities.  Each core class covers the fundamentals of that particular issue - the essential information upon which the local official can build.  At the conclusion of each core class, local officials understand the source and limits of their authority in regard to the topic, know where to look for additional information or assistance, and have sufficient understanding of the topic to apply what they learned to their own jurisdictions.

AELG Core Course Objectives:

Consensus & Team Building

Individuals attending this class will be able to:

1) Identify common conflicts facing local governments in Maryland 

2) Identify several core principles of conflict resolution, management and prevention

3) Recognize common obstacles to building teams and consensus

4) Develop, through role-play and experiential learning, strategies for conflict management and building teams

5) Acquire awareness of subsequent training opportunities and conflict resolution resources.

Basics of Risk Management

Individuals attending this class will learn how to:

1) Develop a structure to identify and mitigate various property and casualty exposures.

2) Distinguish between various types of risk.

3) Transfer these risks to lessen the cost of loss to your governmental entity.

4) Apply these skills by using a “hands on” interactive method of presenting realistic scenarios.

Open Meetings Act

Upon completing this class, students will be able to answer the following questions:

1) What is the Open Meetings Act and why should a public body comply?

2) What does it require of my public body? 

  • what activities does it govern? (or not)
  • what actions does it require before a meeting?
  • what actions does it require during a meeting?
  • what actions does it require after a meeting?

3) How is the Act enforced?

Public Information Act

Upon completing this class, students will be able to answer the following questions:

1) Which agencies must comply with the Act?

2) Who may submit requests under the Act?

3) What types of records does the Act cover?

4) Exemptions from disclosure: What types of records may you, or must you withhold?

5) What are the Act’s requirements in terms of process?

  • Timing
  • Fees
  • Appeals
  • Process


Individuals attending this class will develop an understanding of:

1) The significance of ethical behavior in local government

2) The legal map of Maryland and Local Ethics Law - Title 5 of the General Provisions Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland 

3) What constitutes unethical behavior

4) How ethical lapses happen: lack of attention to detail, pride, greed, failure of moral courage

5) The consequences of unethical behavior; to the person and to the entity: order of compliance, reprimand, recommendation for censure or removal, fines, discipline under personnel rules, etc.

6) Why we need Ethics Codes  - Using recent examples from the ethically challenged

Conducting Effective Meetings:

Individuals completing this class will have a better understanding of:

1) How to properly prepare for meetings including location preparation, development of objectives, and contingency planning

2) Practical guidelines for conducting meetings such as time limits, decorum, and compliance with statutes and codes

3) The basic use of Robert’s Rules of Order

4) Post-meeting follow up, including preparation of minutes and planning for subsequent meetings.

Employment Issues:

Upon completing this class, students will have a greater understanding of:

1) The bases for employment litigation including race, gender, age, religious beliefs, and disability.

2) Best practices for minimizing the risk of litigation in hiring, firing, job advertising, interviewing, and employee supervision.

3) The differences between at-will and merit employment.

4) How recent court decisions are likely to impact local government decisions and practices when it comes to hiring, firing, promoting and disciplining employees.

Municipal Budgeting:

Individuals attending this class will be able to:

1) Identify the framework and fundamental concepts of municipal budgeting in Maryland

2) Better understand their municipality’s financial picture

3) Better manage the fiscal issues facing municipal governments during difficult economic times

Structure of Municipal Government:

Upon completion of the Structure of Municipal Government, participants will be able to:

1) Understand the nature of municipal charters

2) Understand the difference between your charter and your code of ordinances

3) Understand the nature of municipal-state relations

4) Describe the various forms of municipal government

County Financial Management:

Individuals attending this class will be able to:

1) Identify key financial reports,  their significance and use, and interrelationship

2) Identify key financial concepts and legal requirements that drive both the budget process and the subsequent financial reporting

3) Overview processes for revenue and expense development, including issues

4) Address  the impact of State decisions and fiscal health on local government  budgets

5) Discuss changes in financial reporting promulgated by the GASB and their impact on budgeting and financial reporting

6) Understand how to use the budget, CAFR and State reports to assess the health and effort of your county as well as compare to other jurisdictions

7) Increase awareness of resources available to elected officials  related to budget and financial management

Elective Classes

Elective classes are designed around broad categories of topics which can strengthen the ability of local officials to govern effectively.  The topics relate to practical and administrative skill building, frameworks for understanding service delivery and planning concerns from a Maryland local government perspective, and legal and risk management issues in Maryland.  Elective classes provide local officials with the flexibility to pursue areas of interest or individual needs beyond the core topics.

  • The following factors are considered in selecting elective classes:
  • The topic fits within one of the broad elective categories in either the municipal or county track;
  • The class content is of significant value to  local officials in carrying out their official duties;
  • The class is targeted to Maryland local officials;
  • The class does not duplicate other existing Academy classes; and
  • The instructor has the experience and education to teach a quality class.

There are several different ways that the Academy offers elective classes:

1)   Selected workshops in Conferences

Selected workshops at MMLMACo, and LGIT conferences are designated as being eligible for Academy elective credit.

2)    Freestanding classes

Occasionally, freestanding classes are also offered as Academy electives.

Requirements on Elective courses:

Municipal Fellows complete five electives and County Fellows complete six electives that fall under the following broad categories:

  • Communications
  • Economic development and tourism
  • Environmental issues
  • Finance
  • Human resources and personnel administration
  • Intergovernmental relations
  • Land use planning
  • Leadership development
  • Legal and liability issues
  • Service delivery
  • Technology

The Academy Program provides great flexibility for Fellows to choose their own elective courses. Pre-approval of the elective courses are needed in order to obtain the credit. Following is the protocol for approving Academy elective classes:

Step 1:The sponsoring organization submits the Academy Elective Form by email to at least two months prior to the proposed class date.

Step 2:  The Academy Coordinator circulates the completed form to the Academy Council and asks for responses within a ten-day period. If there is no response from the Council, this will indicate agreement that the elective course is approved.  If questions are raised, the Coordinator will work with the committee members and sponsoring organization to have them answered and, if possible, resolved.

Step 3: The Coordinator communicates the Council’s decision by letter or email to the sponsoring organization and encloses verification of attendance forms and evaluation forms if the class is approved. 

Once the elective course is approved by the Academy Council, it will be open to all local officials in Maryland. Presenters of Academy classes are asked to follow the Academy Guidelines for instruction.  Verification of attendance forms and evaluation forms are used at all Academy classes and the original forms must be returned to the Academy Coordinator within one week of completion of the course.