School Facility Index Sets Some Goalposts on School Construction

Senate Bill 1183 would establish educational facilities sufficiency standards and a facility condition index and use the index to rank all of Maryland’s public schools. This can help accurately inform the State and counties about what school construction needs exist here in Maryland. However, the indexing of facilities through a ranking system are a concern because it would be difficult for the index to properly take into account all of the factors and priorities that go into local decision making with school construction.

MACo offered written testimony in support with amendments of HB 1495 to the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee on March 15, 2018.

From MACo Testimony:

Use of a statewide facility condition index to rank facilities, as described in this bill, could also influence State funding decisions. Funding decisions based on this sort of ranking threaten to override local insight into needs and priorities. Decisions based on such a ranking could also have the unintended consequence of penalizing those school boards and counties who best protect investments through positive maintenance practices.

SB 1183 will contribute to the understanding of statewide school construction needs through a statewide facility assessment. However, the bill’s requirement to develop a facility condition index and ranking may have negative consequences. As needs are assessed, the ability of local governments to guide school construction funding priorities must be preserved.”

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