In MACo’s Winter Conference General Session, Set Your Sites: Strategies for Building Better Schools, Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh spoke with the Chair of the 21st Century School Facilities Commission, Martin Knott about the Commission’s work and upcoming report, while sharing a county perspective on the best path to building better public schools.
County Executive Schuh described how Anne Arundel County has made progress on school construction, and set forth ideas that would help all county governments.
Schuh described how in Anne Arundel, the County extended the life of bonds issued for school construction from 20 to 30 years, thereby increasing available funding by up to 35%.
He raised the idea of using the Maryland Green Building Council to review school construction projects, eliminating the expense of attaining a LEED certification, while still maintaining the same environmental standards. He also suggested revisions to emergency sheltering regulations for school construction that do not always align with local emergency management shelter plans.
He noted the size of today’s schools as compared with their predecessors, and asked about the education specifications that the State uses to guide school structures.
Chairman Knott responded to Schuh’s questions and shared major topics under consideration for the 21st Century School Facilities Commission’s final report, including:
- Allowing furniture to be a cost eligible for state school construction funding
- Building a statewide school facility assessment and inventory library
- Creating a school facility funding authority to issue bonds
- Developing appropriate flexibility in environmental standards and emergency sheltering requirements for schools
- Aligning educational programs and facilities through consistent review of the educational specification by the Interagency Committee on School Construction
The 21st Century School Facilities Commission’s decision meeting will be held on December 14th. Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner and Prince George’s County Council Member Mel Franklin are the county government representatives to the Commission.