Expanding County Flexibility Opens the Door on School Construction

MACo Research Director Robin Eilenberg testified in support on Senate Bill 1145, “County Boards of Education – Leasing of School Property”, before the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee on March 15, 2018. This bill gives counties significant flexibility in finding alternative means of financing school construction.

Among the newfound authorities granted to counties are:

1. the ability to use alternative financing methods;
2. engage in competitive negotiation, including construction management at–risk arrangements;
3. accept unsolicited proposals for the development of public schools;
4. Use quality–based selection, in which selection is based on a combination of qualifications and
cost factors, to select developers and builders; AND
5. Lease property from a county or private entity for use as a public school.

MACo submitted one clarifying amendment that would align the bill with current law regarding a county’s governing body having approval over alternative financing of schools sought by county school boards.

From MACo Testimony:

Maryland counties seek to have every tool in the toolbox available to help confront rising costs of school construction and critical facility needs. For this reason, MACo has advocated for greater access to alternative financing arrangements, and supports this bill’s alternative financing provisions.

Counties and school boards who pursue novel school financing arrangements must be able to rely on state law that clearly defines financial responsibilities. Lack of clarity in existing law may be a stumbling block to pursuing this school construction tool.”

For more on this and other legislation, follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2018 legislative session here.