The Big Build Schools Bill Is (Almost) Here

Legislation based on the recommendations of the 21st School Facilities Commission will be introduced in the General Assembly on March 1. A summary, but not the text of the bill, is available as of this writing.

UPDATE: The text of the bill is now available.

The Knott Commission legislation that many have been awaiting is almost here. HB1783 21st Century School Facilities Act, sponsored by Delegate Jones, Chair of the Capital Budget Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee is listed on the synopsis of bills to be introduced on March 1.

According to the summary on the General Assembly website, the bill deals with:

  • Altering the requirements for awarding contracts to bidders for school buildings;
  • requiring the Interagency Committee on School Construction to conduct a certain facility assessment;
  • specifying the process for the review and approval of public school construction projects;
  • establishing the Local Share of School Construction Costs Revolving Loan Fund to provide loans to local governments to forward fund the local share of school construction costs;
  • declaring the intent of the General Assembly regarding funding for school construction; etc.

MACo has heard that the bill will be a major piece of legislation, and that it will include some component of all 30+ recommendations of the Knott Commission.

Preliminary analysis of the Department of Legislative Services finds the legislation to be a “local government mandate.” In this context, that may mean that either county governments or another local entity, such as school boards, are directly affected by the legislation.

MACo has been awaiting this legislation along with other school construction stakeholders. 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 addition, MACo supports reasonable school construction improvements including alternative financing, public-private partnerships, and innovative models of school construction and design.