Preliminary Recommendations for School Construction Funding Released

The Interagency Commission on School Construction (IAC) released the Preliminary Report of the Workgroup on the Assessment and Funding of School Facilities.

In a letter to Governor Hogan, Speaker Jones, and President Miller, Dr. Karen Salmon requested the extension of the Workgroup for one further year in order to fully respond to the statutory charge. Dr. Salmon, the Chairperson of the IAC and Chair of the Workgroup, requested the extension as there has been a delay in procurement of the statewide school facilities assessment.

The Preliminary Assessment delves major discussion ares including standards-based funding, total cost of ownership and maintenance. After discussing the statutory charges of the Workgroup, the Report continues into the preliminary findings and recommendations that were brought forth and preliminary adopted.

The Conclusion and Next Steps of the Workgroup’s Report:

With an estimated asset value of $56 billion, the size of the statewide school facilities portfolio in
Maryland is second only to the State’s portfolio of roads. In order for LEAs to successfully deliver
education programs and services to Maryland’s nearly 900,000 public K-12 students, the State’s
1,400 public school facilities must remain perpetually in sufficient condition. For this to take
place, planning, funding, and maintenance practices must be consistently and persistently
effective.

State and local funding levels and allocation practices to date have not been sufficient to avoid a
substantial decline in the condition of the overall statewide school facilities portfolio. Although
the average age of square footage—the only currently available comparable measure of facility
condition— is insufficient to accurately convey the condition of an individual school facility, it
does provide an order-of-magnitude representation of the overall condition of the portfolio of
schools. The increase in the average age of Maryland’s school facilities from 24 years in 2005 to
30 years in 2019 suggests that facility conditions may be worsening across the State. The
completion of the statewide school facilities assessment will provide invaluable information for
school construction planning and funding and will provide measures that can be reviewed
longitudinally over time to provide decision makers with information needed to determine
appropriate funding levels and practices.

This report contains the draft recommendations of the Workgroup on the Assessment and
Funding of School Facilities, many of which should be reviewed by the Workgroup once facility
assessment data becomes available. The current approach to school facility funding in Maryland
may not be adequate to sustain a sufficient learning environment for every student in every seat
in a Maryland school. The completion of the statewide assessment is critical, and will provide a
foundation upon which good planning practices can drive decision making in order to achieve a
school facilities portfolio that is both educationally sufficient and fiscally sustainable.

Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner represented MACo on the Workgroup and while she abstained from voting on the matrix due to the lack of having the statewide assessment, there was a unanimous vote for the Preliminary Report due to it being labeled as preliminary.

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