$30 Million for Healthy Schools Passes Maryland Senate

A bill to provide $30 million annually for fiscal years 2020 and 2021 was voted out of its chamber of origin yesterday, and now moves to the House of Delegates.

A bill to improve the learning environments in Maryland Schools is advancing in the General Assembly. Addressing facility issues is often cost effective in the long term.

Legislation introduced by Baltimore City Senator Bill Ferguson to provide additional funding to ensure healthy learning environments for students is advancing in the General Assembly, with substantial amendments.

The first version of the legislation would have provided $15 million annually, and not more than $5 million to any one school district annually from 2018 through 2024. The bill was amended by the sponsor, however, to provide $30 million annually, and not more than $15 million to any one school district for fiscal years 2020 and 2021.

According to the bill, the Interagency Committee on School Construction shall give priority in awarding grants to schools based on the severity of need for the following issues in the school, including:

  1. air conditioning;
  2. heating;
  3. indoor air quality;
  4. mold remediation;
  5. temperature regulation;
  6. plumbing; and
  7. windows.

MACo supported the legislation as originally drafted, stating in testimony,

The State’s school facilities are an average age of 29 years, a statistic that belies many schools much older than 29 years and still in regular use. Issues such as heating failures, air quality concerns, mold, and temperature fluctuations frequently plague aging schools. Investment in updated systems and infrastructure improvements in these areas contributes to healthy learning environments. Addressing these building issues may also provide long-term cost savings for counties, school boards, and the State of Maryland with improved energy efficiency and extended facility life.

The bill, as amended, changes the program, directing more funding away from the state budget toward this particular goal, and allowing for much of that funding to be provided to 1 or 2 jurisdictions.

For more information, read the amended version of SB 611 Education – Healthy School Facility Fund – Established