State Can Step Back From School Construction Reviews, Says Subcommittee

The Process Process, Procedure, and Educational Specifications Subcommittee discussed recommendations to the Knott Commission regarding areas where the state’s process can be scaled back to streamline school construction in Maryland.

At today’s meeting of the process subcommittee of the Knott Commission on 21st Century School Facilities, the subcommittee discussed and voted on several recommendations to reduce the state’s role in school construction reviews. These recommendations are aimed a reducing duplicative reviews by different branches of state government, and to expedite the school construction process.

MACo advocates for streamlining school construction processes. County governments share responsibility for financing K-12 school construction with the State, whose funding depends on statutory formulas and regulations. MACo advocates efforts to promote the smartest and most effective funding for modern schools, and urges State policymakers to retain the State’s strong commitment to this top funding priority.

In the presentation of the possible areas for recommendations, Alex Szachnowicz, Chief Operating Officer Anne Arundel County School System asked the Commissioners to consider whether the current processes are adding value to the school construction program.

“A truism in the construction field is the old adage, ‘time is money.’ ” –Alex Szachnowicz, Chief Operating Officer Anne Arundel County School System

On the following areas of potential consensus, the Subcommittee made the following votes:

  • Should we keep Department of General Services (DGS) review for design development for systemic updates (such as replacing a failing boiler in an existing school)?
    • MAJORITY OF SUBCOMMITTEE RECOMMENDS TO ELIMINATE
  • Should we keep DGS review for design development for major construction projects? For these projects, design development is currently reviewed by the Maryland State Department of Education first, then they move to DGS. Design development plans represent about 50-60% of the design for a project.
    • MAJORITY OF SUBCOMMITTEE RECOMMENDS TO ELIMINATE
  • Should we keep DGS review for construction documents for systemics? The construction documents represent 100% of the design for a project.
    • MAJORITY OF SUBCOMMITTEE RECOMMENDS TO ELIMINATE
  • Should we keep DGS  review for construction documents for major projects?
    • MAJORITY OF SUBCOMMITTEE RECOMMENDS TO ELIMINATE
  • Should we keep DGS review for change orders for systemics?
    • MAJORITY OF SUBCOMMITTEE RECOMMENDS TO ELIMINATE
  • Should we keep DGS review for change orders for major projects?
    • MAJORITY OF SUBCOMMITTEE RECOMMENDS TO ELIMINATE

Additional areas for potential change were discussed by the subcommittee, and in some cases the subcommittee decided to ask for additional information from the state government before voting.

On November 14th, the subcommittee will present its recommendations to the full Knott Commission.

Documents may be posted on the Knott Commission webpage following the meeting.

At MACo’s Winter Conference, December 6-8, county leaders will be discussing school funding in a roundtable setting. Learn more about that session. Register, and join the conversation!

Learn more about MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference: