School Facility Planners from counties across Maryland met in Hagerstown this week to discuss strategies to survive the increasing costs of school construction. The Facility Planners were hosted by Antietam Academy in Hagerstown Maryland. David Lever, D.A., of the Interagency Committee on School Construction invited representatives of MACo, the Maryland Association of Boards of Education (MABE) and the Public Schools Superintendent’s Association of Maryland (PSSAM) to attend the meeting as guests.
Two panel discussions: Cost Impacts on School Construction; and Cost Savings Through Design and Construction filled the morning with insights and advice from facility and school construction directors, and a panel of construction companies and contractors. Panelists discussed challenges of projects finishing over-budget, pointing to increasing site work costs and a lack of competition in the construction industry. New laws requiring more widespread application of the prevailing wage account for some of the increases, according to perspectives shared. Others pointed to stormwater and septics regulations, and the technology-intensive student assessments as creating additional costs, sometimes before facility construction even begins.
Industry representatives described the difficulties of sustaining their businesses with a diminishing trades workforce, noting the construction industry workforce is at a fifteen year low. The difficulty of finding labor is leading to some small contractors to go out of business and leave the field. Facilities planners and industry representatives shared an interest in growing Maryland’s workforce in the construction trades in the years ahead.
MACo expects to continue working with Maryland’s School Facility Planners, along with our partners MABE and PSSAM on these issues of common interest.