2015 End of Session Wrap Up: School Construction

This post summarizes the status of K-12 public school construction legislation that MACo tracked during the 2015 General Assembly Session.

School ConstructionHB 110 / SB 79 Creation of a State Debt – Qualified Zone Academy Bonds authorizes authorize the Board of Public Works to issue $4,625,000 in Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZABs) by December 31, 2015, and grant the money to the Interagency Committee on School Construction (IAC) and the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE). This legislation is a necessary step for the State’s participation in this federal school construction funding program.

MACo has supported and will continue to support additional funding for our schools, including the QZAB, and the Aging Schools and Breakthrough Center Programs. These programs fill an important niche by covering projects that would not normally qualify as true capital projects eligible for general obligation bond (GO) funding.

FINAL STATUS: HB 110 was passed by the General Assembly and will be sent to the Governor for his signature.

MACo Testimony on HB 110

Charter School Construction: SB 595HB 486 Public Charter School Improvement Act of 2015 was a legislative initiative of Governor Hogan. As introduced, the legislation would have made public charter schools eligible for school construction funding through the capital improvement program alongside all other public schools. Other changes in the original legislation included creating centralized authority to approve charter schools in the State, loosening charter school teacher professional requirements, and altering charter school operating funding.

Public education advocates lobbied as a broad coalition to maintain local school board authority to approve charter schools, maintain professional requirements for charter school teachers, and request a study instead of an alteration of charter school operating funding. Substantial amendments adopted by the General Assembly stripped the bill of the provision changing charter school construction funding eligibility, maintained local school board authority to approve charter schools, allowed some regulatory flexibility to high-performing charter schools, and requested a study of funding for charter school operating expenses.

FINAL STATUS: SB 595 was passed in its amended form by the General Assembly and now awaits the Governor’s signature.

Summary from the Maryland Association of Boards of Education

Local School Construction: SB 490 / HB 923 Capital Grant Program for Local School Systems With Significant Enrollment Growth or Relocatable Classrooms would provide additional funding to counties with school systems experiencing significant student population growth or counties with a significant number of relocatable classrooms.

Local school systems in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Howard, Montgomery, and Prince George’s counties are eligible to share $20.0 million in additional State funding for school construction in FY 2016; to the extent these counties receive funding, they must provide matching funds in accordance with each county’s required local cost share amount under PSCP. Dorchester County is projected to become eligible for funding beginning in FY 2017. Other systems become eligible and ineligible for funding in the out-years based on the bill’s criteria.

FINAL STATUS: HB 923 was passed by the General Assembly and will be sent to the Governor for his signature. The capital budget, HB 71, passed by the General Assembly included funding for this program.

SB 490 Revised Fiscal Note