Montgomery Officials Hopeful on School Construction Funding

As reported by the Gazette, Montgomery County state and local officials are hopeful that the General Assembly will pass legislation during the upcoming session to direct more school construction funding to the county.

After a Monday event at Wilson Wims Elementary School — built to relieve overcrowding in the Clarksburg area — Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett said he feels “very confident” state lawmakers can “make some progress” in the upcoming session toward a funding method that would help the county accommodate its growing student body.

According to the article, Montgomery County’s increase in its student body this year was the largest since 2000.

Montgomery County legislators introduced legislation this past session to direct more school funding to the county.

Del. Anne R. Kaiser (D-Dist. 14) of Calverton put forward a bill that would have established a program to fund construction projects based on a county’s bond rating and a school system’s total number of students. Legislators from Montgomery, Prince George’s and Baltimore counties, who likely would have benefited from the program, pushed for the legislation’s passage.

State Sen. Nancy J. King submitted another bill that would have established a grant program and doled out money based on student enrollment growth.

Both legislators felt the bills did not have a strong chance of passage last session, but hope with a new Administration, the outcome will be positive next session.

However, County Council President Craig Rice commented that he is hearing a “different conversation coming from Annapolis.”

Rather than a focus on the state’s three bigger counties, he said, he thinks there will be a “statewide approach” this session concerning construction funding.

The Governor issued an Executive Order in May to conduct a study on school construction in Maryland.  The study will address the topics raised in Delegate Kaiser’s legislation, HB1323 Public School Construction – Creative Financing Study  and HB 349/SB 388 Study of Alternative Financing Methods for the Purpose of School Construction.  Additional information on the Public School Construction Financing Study can be found on Conduit Street.