Predictability in School Construction Funding

Two meetings in Annapolis yesterday raised the predictability of funding for local school systems alongside goals of debt restraint and ideas for reform of funding decision processes. 

In a morning meeting of the Capital Debt Affordability Committee this week, the Committee heard presentations from the Department of Budget and Management  and the public school construction program, among others.

A few notes from the meeting:

  • While estimated agency requests for funding over the next five years are almost $4 billion above the planned debt limits of $995 million per year, according to the Department of Budget and Management, state agencies are listening to the debt limit and beginning to restrain new project requests.
  • The continuity of school construction funding over the past decade has created a helpful level of predictability for local school boards as they develop multi-year plans, according to the State School Construction Program.
  • The School Construction Program asked that previous levels of state funding for school construction continue with a $330 million request for FY 2018.

For more information see the September 15, 2016 Capital Debt Affordability Committee

In the afternoon, the 21st Century School Facilities Commission met, hearing presentations on the Maryland School Construction approval process and comparisons from other states.

A few notes:

  • The overview of the process and timelines for school construction requests and approvals from state and local governments for funding prompted a question from the Commission on whether the process includes enough predictability for local governments.
  • According to the Department of Legislative Services, the history of funding reveals that from year-to-year, districts tend to receive a similar percentage of the total state’s capital school construction budget.
  • Maryland’s process of recommendations from the Interagency Committee on School Construction and final approvals for funding from the Board of Public Works is unique in the nation, according to the Department of Legislative Services.

For more information, watch the 21st Century School Facilities Commission Meeting (meeting materials forthcoming).