Alternative Financing Is a Popular Subject at First Meeting of 21st Century School Facilities Commission

Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner spoke about increasing school construction costs, sharing an example from her county, at the first meeting of the 21st Century School Facilities Commission.

Members of the 21st Century School Facilities Commission met today in Annapolis for the first time, hearing an overview of the State’s school construction program and sharing their interests.

The conversation revealed significant interest of the group in alternative financing and public-private partnerships. The Commission includes government representatives and members of the public representing the construction and finance industries. Martin Knott, the Chair of the Commission is part owner of Knott Mechanical, a second-generation family-owned business that specializes in HVAC and plumbing services.

The members of the Commission received their charge from the Presiding Officers of the General Assembly, after which Knott asked each member to introduce themselves and share a bit about their interests in school construction.

Alternative financing was one of the most popular subjects among members of the Commission, receiving several mentions and spurring some discussion of the potential for use of P3s, or public-private partnerships for traditional school construction. Members raised examples of the use of P3s in charter school construction, and at the Barbara Ingrams School for the Arts in Hagerstown and the Oyster School in Washington DC. They discussed energy performance contracting, and potential for using the Maryland Clean Energy Center in association with school construction.

Jan Gardner, Frederick County Executive, raised issues of overcrowding in schools and school construction costs in her introduction to other members of the Commission. Gardner represents Maryland counties on the Commission. Frederick County is also conducting a local school construction task force and Gardner said she will bring any technical information developed by that task force to this Commission for their consideration.

The next meeting of the Commission will take place on July 21, and will be an opportunity for county input. If you are interested in participating, please contact Robin Clark at MACo.

For more information see the following meeting documents:

Members of the Commission

IAC Presentation

Commission Charge and First Meeting Agenda

Construction Costs for New and Renovated Schools

Schedule and Work Plan