School Construction Funding Options Explored

A September 18 Herald-Mail.com article discusses the increased interest in alternative school construction funding methods in light of current economic challenges.  The Maryland Public School Construction Program hosted a seminar on September 19 which highlighted alternative funding methods.  See previous Conduit Street blog coverage.

With state and local governments continuing to look at tough economic times, [Public School Construction Program Executive Director David] Lever’s office is encouraging discussion about financing alternatives, such as a “design build finance maintain operate” model.  …

“My hope is that we’ll be able to put together a very good study group … and explore this more to see whether it does make sense,” Lever said of alternative financing ideas.

If the biggest task statewide is tackling existing school buildings that need renovations, the private vendor model might not work well, Lever said.

The article also discusses the possible extension of the recommendation of the of the 2004 Task Force to Study Public School Facilities to spend a minimum of $250 million a year for school construction through FY 2013 in order to maintain minimum standards.  As previously reported on Conduit Street, MACo has adopted school construction funding and the extension of the Task Force’s recommendation as a 2012 legislative initiative.

“It’s been a tremendous amount of money and it’s been a tremendous help. There’s no question about that. We hope that that will continue, but we need to do more,” [Public School Construction Program Executive Director David] Lever said Wednesday.  …

Les Knapp, associate director for the Maryland Association of Counties (MACO), said the organization is concerned about the possible lapse after fiscal 2013 and wants to see the $250 million annual pool extended in future years.

Recognizing the current economic situation, Knapp said MACO officials think keeping the $250 million annual level is a “reasonable goal.”  …

“Part of the reason we have such a well-regarded school system (in Maryland) is we have such good school facilities,” Knapp said.

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