The Maryland Interagency Commission on School Construction holds its first meeting, making decisions on school safety grant funding, local projects, and its new letterhead.
As a result of the 21st Century School Facilities Act, which was made law through a veto override of the General Assembly this year, a new Commission on Public School Construction was created.
The Commission held its first meeting today and they handled everything from mundane technical decisions, such as approval of a new letterhead and meeting schedule, to hot topics, like school safety grant funding.
On reviewing the letterhead seal, Commissioners joked whether they would also have to write all of their letters in Latin.
Luckily, the Commission did not conduct its meeting in Latin. In fact, the proceedings, which are all now simulcast live through a town hall link on the Public School Construction website, were transparent and relatively easy to follow.
The Commission will inherit the responsibility of the former Interagency Committee on School Construction, and also has expanded authorities under the new law which include allocating project funding.
The Chair of the Commission, State Superintendent Karen Salmon, described how Commission meetings are public, and how public comments will be accommodated and handled at the meetings. Salmon shared her goal of hearing public comment while maintaining the Commission’s ability to complete its work.
“There could be hundreds of people attending these meetings once we start allocating project funding.” — State Superintendent Karen Salmon
Today, the Commission approved the FY 2019 Capital Improvement Program allocations and planning projections and approved the proposed educational facility sufficiency standards for the assessment of public school facilities required by the 21st Century School Facilities Act. The facility assessment will be completed by July 1, 2019.
On school safety, the Commission approved the use of a combination of pupil populations and school square footage to guide the allocation of the first $10 million of the $20 million School Safety Grant Program created last year.
The Commission also approved various facility status changes, including:
- A lease of a school property by Carroll County Board of County Commissioners, with a pro rata share of lease payments to be referred to the State;
- A transfer of property from the Kent County School Board to the Kent County Commissioners, with the county assuming the State’s remaining debt service on the property;
- A sale of a former job development center site, a property previously transferred by the school board to the Washington County Board of County Commissioners; and
- A transfer of 11 acres adjacent to an elementary school to the City of Hagerstown for use as a public golf course.
In the presentation of local projects, staff noted that they are working to streamline approval process for school boards and county governments.
Open session was adjourned at 10:10 am.