Public School Construction Head Proposes Flat Funding Despite Cost Increases

This week’s Capital Debt Affordability Committee (CDAC) meeting included presentations and discussion on the State’s public school construction program. MACo tracks the work of this committee as county governments are partners with the State in funding new school construction.

This was Bob Gorrell’s first presentation before CDAC. Gorrell is the new Executive Director of the Public School Construction Program. Gorrell proposed flat funding for the capital improvement grant program despite evidence of construction cost increases.

Gorrell is focused on determining the best use of funds through gathering information on the state of existing facilities into an index and developing facility adequacy standards. His request for flat funding is consistent with the level of funding received over the past three fiscal years for the capital improvement grant program-the main source of school construction funding from the State.  The amount Gorrell requested for additional State school construction funding, including programs that provide additional funding for repairs to Aging Schools (ASP) and schools with either a high number of relocatable classrooms or greater than average enrollment growth (EGRC) are as determined by statute.

Gorrell’s presentation followed a report by the Department of Budget and Management, that drew comparison between the amount of the State’s debt service and public school construction program:

Debt Service Growth is Large

  • Debt service growth is a large part of the State’s budget shortfall, the
    FY 2019 general fund debt service is approximate $350 million
  • The FY 2019 general fund subsidy is larger than the total amount
    allocated for Public School Construction
  • In comparison, the general fund debt subsidy was zero as recently
    as FY 2013

Bob Gorrell’s presentation began with summary information about Maryland’s Public Schools, including:

Public School Facilities Quick Facts
 Number of students – 885,820
 Number of schools – 1,382
 Square feet (SF) within schools – 139,160,537
 Average gross square feet (GSF) per student – 157
 Replacement Value – $44,531,371,840 (@ $320 GSF)
 Annualized Replacement Value (ARV or $44.5B/50 years)–$890,627,436.80
 Each 2% cost avoided (equates to a year of extended life)–$890 million
 Average age of GSF 29 years (down 5 years since 2005)

Gorrell, a relative newcomer to Maryland, shared perspective on Maryland’s state school construction funding level by putting it in context of cost escalations and increases in school sizes:

Screenshot 2017-09-19 13.50.04

At the end of his presentation, Gorrell submitted a proposal from the Interagency Committee on School Construction for the State’s FY 2019’s school construction allocation:

Screenshot 2017-09-18 14.04.16
The Interagency Committee on School Construction’s 2019 budget request flat funds the CIP.

For more information, see the September 18 CDAC Presentations.