Interagency Committee on School Construction Budget Hearing

January 31, 2013

The Interagency Committee on School Construction (IAC) briefed the House Appropriation Committee’s Education & Economic Development Subcommittee today in Annapolis.  David Lever, Executive Director of the State of Maryland Public School Construction Program provided operating budget and personnel data for fiscal years 2012 through 2014, and an analysis of the fiscal year 2014 Maryland Executive Budget.  Overall the analysis showed that the number of school systems below the statewide average facility age has remained the same as last year, but it is still an improvement over past years.  As the briefing materials state,

The improvement in statewide average facility age reflects the State’s significant investment in school construction in recent years.  Maryland has gained four years in the effort to reduce the age of schools.  Seven years elapsed between 2005 and 2012, but on average the schools aged only three years more.  While the 2012 data shows improvement over the baseline, with seven local education agencies below the State average, the number remains the same as last year.

Find the full briefing materials here.

A complete listing of all fiscal 2014 budget documents affecting county governments can be found on MACo’s website under Research, then Budget and Tax.


Budget Analysis Reviews School Construction Issues

January 31, 2013

In the Department of Legislative Services’ analysis of the operating budget for the Interagency Committee on School Construction (IAC), a series of issues are raised with the status of school facilities and the programs that promote them. The IAC budget hearing is scheduled for January 31. See the full analysis online.

More information on school construction issues is available on the IAC website.

A full list of budget hearings is available online. MACo has also placed selected budget hearings of general county interest in its online meetings calendar.


Frederick County Commissioner Finds School Board Construction Plan Unrealistic

October 2, 2012

The Frederick County school  board approved a 10-year construction plan that includes $305.3 million in funding requests, as reported in the Gazette.   But, as the Board approved the plan, they admitted that their funding requests would not likely be met.  They pointed out the differences between the system’s requested projects and those commissioners have approved for funding.

The decision to include such information follows criticism from Commissioners’ President Blaine Young (R) that the school system’s master plan was “unrealistic” and “overly aggressive.”

In a letter he submitted as public comment for the school system’s master plan hearing on Sept. 12, Young said that in the current weak economy, the county cannot fund the timeline of construction and renovation projects as outlined in the plan.

Although the county has been aggressive in moving up some school construction projects, such as the replacement of North Frederick and Lincoln elementaries, officials still are waiting on the state to reimburse them for $23 million that the commissioners have forward funded to support school construction, Young said.

And with the county being pressed to provide money for teacher pensions, it will be more difficult to find funding for school construction in the general fund, Young said. School construction money comes from the general fund in the commissioners’ operating budget, impact fees and new school mitigation fees for developers.


Board of Public Works Approves School Construction Funding

May 24, 2012

The Maryland Board of Public Works, composed of Governor Martin O’Malley, Comptroller Peter Franchot, and Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp, approved $161 million in school construction funding during the Board of Public Works meeting held on Wednesday, May 23, 2012.  This funding is in addition to the $187.5 million approved in January of this year, bringing the total amount of funding for school construction projects to nearly $350 million.  This is a substantial increase over the funding provided in FY 2012.  From the Baltimore Sun article:

The additional money will fund increased demand from schools to target systemic challenges, state officials said. Collectively, districts requested 40 more projects than they did in the previous year. Those projects specifically address factors that affect learning, including heating and air conditioning.

The counties in the Baltimore area received the following total funding for school construction.

Anne Arundel County: $33.3 million

Baltimore County: $43.3 million

Baltimore City: $42.6 million

Harford County: $14.5 million

Howard County: $32.4 million


State’s Capital Budget Advances With School Construction Funding Intact

March 30, 2012

As the days of the legislative session wane, and the major issues surrounding the state’s operating budget (including the shifting of teacher pensions, and state revenue increases) remain unsolved — progress continues on the state capital budget, long term projects depending on bond proceeds.

From coverage in the Herald-Mail:

[A] $1.12 billion capital budget tentatively approved Wednesday and passed Thursday by a 39-7 vote.

The House of Delegates is getting closer to having its own version of the capital budget ready for a preliminary vote.

The General Assembly has until April 9 to pass the legislation and reconcile any differences in bills supported by the House and Senate.

A report detailing the Senate’s proposed capital budget plan is available online here.


Bill Moving to Require Solar Technology Evaluation for School Construction Projects

March 29, 2012

As introduced,  HB 1237 would have established a workgroup to study the feasibility of creating a streamlined program to use county and State school buildings for the collection of solar energy. However, during a meeting today of the House Health and Government Operations Subcommittee on Government Operations, the study language was struck and new language was added to require school construction design documents to include an evaluation of the use of solar technologies based on life cycle costs.  These technologies include photovoltaic solar water heating.

If an evaluation determines that solar technologies are not appropriate for a construction or renovation project, the design documents must include a report that explains why.

The cost of such an evaluation is not known, but it will add to the cost of a school construction project.

Voted favorable by the Subcommittee, this bill will now be voted by the full committee and sent to full House of Delegates for consideration.


BPW Awards $750,000 from Alcohol Sales Tax for Western Maryland School Construction

February 14, 2012

On February 8, the Maryland Board of Public Works awarded $750,000 in grant money raised by the alcoholic beverages tax to schools in several Western Maryland counties.  Last year, the General Assembly passed legislation that increased the sales tax on alcoholic beverages from 6% to 9% effective July 1, 2011 and provided for FY 2012 supplementary appropriation of $47.5 million to go to public school construction.  Western Maryland (Allegany, Carroll, Frederick, Garrett, and Washington Counties) were guaranteed $750,000 of that appropriation.  The money will go to projects for six elementary, middle, and high schools, with each county receiving a share.

 From a February 8 Cumberland Times-News article:

“The bill created a pot of money of $750,000 for Garrett, Allegany, Washington, Frederick and Carroll. There was no designation per county and no directions on how the money would be split up. It would be entirely possible that Allegany could receive nothing,” said Randall Bittinger, chief business officer for the Allegany County school system. “Counties submitted proposals and requests for this money and, as expected, the amounts requested far exceeded the amount of money,” Bittinger said. Bittinger credited Facilities Director Vince Montana with working out an agreement between the western counties for allocating the funds.  …

The bill squeezes rural Maryland out of most of the $85 million in revenue expected, with only 6.8 percent of the revenue being distributed between 16 jurisdictions, mostly in Western Maryland and on the Eastern Shore, said Delegate Wendell Beitzel.

“This division is clearly inequitable to the rural areas of the state. … These smaller funds would also have to be stretched much further to have any impact at all,” Beitzel said last year.

From a February 8 Frederick News-Post article:

The state agreed Wednesday to channel more than $230,000 of funding to kick-start the revamping of Frederick High School.  …

The aid will help officials pay for a study of the best way to modernize Frederick High School, which opened in 1939 and is in need of an update, Delegate Galen Clagett said.

“It’s like an English muffin. It’s full of nooks and crannies,” Clagett said of the school.  …


Baltimore City Eyes New Funding for School Construction

February 10, 2012

In a radio interview with Inside Maryland Politics Sr. News Analyst Frazier Smith, Baltimore Sun City Hall reporter Julie Scharper talks about Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s plans to introduce a new school construction formula for Baltimore City that would involve “floating $1.2 Billion in bonds” to repair the city’s aging schools.

Listen Here

MACo’s Legislative Committee adopted its annual initiatives for 2012, including School Construction and Renovation Funding on this list of top priority items for the 2012 legislative session. From the initiative summary:

School Construction and Renovation Funding

While the State has laudably increased its school construction and renovation efforts in recent years, the need for funding remains high. Every state dollar invested in school projects leverages roughly two county dollars of local funding. MACo urges the General Assembly to continue its commitment by keeping school construction and renovation funding a high priority, and support a funding level consistent with its own adopted multi-year goals. Additionally, MACo urges the State to develop and adopt a new multi-year funding strategy as the current goal expires in FY 2013.

A summary of last year’s projects requested – both funded and delayed – is available online here.

County Officials Appear in Annapolis to Appeal for School Construction Funds

January 26, 2012

Recently, county officials appeared in Annapolis at the January 25 Board of Public Works (BPW) meeting to appeal for funding for school construction projects.  The BPW is composed of Governor Martin O’Malley, Treasurer Nancy Kopp, and Comptroller Peter Franchot.  The Washington Post reported that,

With the budget process accelerating, participants flocked to the state capital to compete for limited funds above an initial allocation of $250 million that will be divvied up among the state’s 23 counties and Baltimore.

Jocularly known around Annapolis as the “Beg-a-Thon” but rechristened the “Hope-a-Thon” by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), the appeals to the three members who sit on the Board of Public Works take on more importance this year as O’Malley’s budget proposes a near-record $372 million for school construction.

This increased funding for school construction was previously reported on  Conduit Street.   MACo’s Legislative Committee adopted its annual initiatives for 2012, including School Construction and Renovation Funding on this list of top priority items for the 2012 legislative session. From the initiative summary:

School Construction and Renovation Funding

While the State has laudably increased its school construction and renovation efforts in recent years, the need for funding remains high. Every state dollar invested in school projects leverages roughly two county dollars of local funding. MACo urges the General Assembly to continue its commitment by keeping school construction and renovation funding a high priority, and support a funding level consistent with its own adopted multi-year goals. Additionally, MACo urges the State to develop and adopt a new multi-year funding strategy as the current goal expires in FY 2013.


Wicomico County Council Supports New School Construction

January 25, 2012

During a special legislative session on Tuesday the Wicomico County Council approved writing a letter to support construction on a new Bennett Middle School. The Council, whom previously deliberated on the funding of  the new middle school, voted this time in favor  (4-3) of writing a letter to accompany one already written by County Executive Rick Pollitt.

The Daily Times reports:

In the week since the council took its first vote, the state’s Interagency Committee on School Construction, given the lack of support from the County Council, began reappropriating millions of dollars it planned to give Wicomico County during the upcoming fiscal year to projects outside the region.

The committee was planning to move $3.85 million of $4.5 million to school construction and renovation projects on the western shore. If that money will now stay put given the County Council’s reversal remains to be seen.

The alternative funding plan, if approved by the County Council once it receives the operating budget for fiscal year 2013 in April, would bond $12.5 million for construction of the school during December.

Today, representatives from the Wicomico County Board of Education will speak with the Maryland Board of Public Works.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,754 other followers