Report: Baltimore County High Schools Need $1.2 Billion for Renovations/Expansions

A new report says that Baltimore County’s 24 public high schools require renovations and expansions that could cost up to $1.2 billion.

The report — authored by consulting firm CannonDesign — is part of a collaboration between Baltimore County Government and Baltimore County Public Schools to develop a long-range plan for identifying and prioritizing capital improvements to schools.

The Multi-Year Improvement Plan for all Schools will assess capital needs based on a number of factors, including enrollment projections, capacity, educational equity/adequacy, and the condition of school facilities.

According to The Baltimore Sun:

The report’s $1.2 billion estimate could include the estimated cost of building “relief” high schools in overcrowded communities, but does not account for the cost of land purchases.

The study also presented a second scenario in which the Maryland General Assembly revives the Built to Learn Act, which would provide Baltimore County schools with an additional $110 million for renovations. That money would accelerate construction to a more palatable 15-year timeline.

HB 1 – Built to Learn Act of 2020 would create a large new funding program for school construction. The 2020 bill pulls recommendations from the 2019 Workgroup on the Assessment and Funding of School Facilities.

The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee unanimously passed a contingency amendment which prevents the bill from taking effect until the Kirwan Blueprint bill — which Governor Hogan vetoed last May — becomes law.

The report recommends a renovation cycle strategy that calibrates project scopes equitably based on available funding and a reasonable renovation cycle timeline (e.g. 15 years) and outlines three options depending on funding scenarios and implementation strategy:

If House Bill 1 (Built to Learn Act) passes and Baltimore County commits local matching funds:

Case 1: large renovation projects for all assessed adequacy, equity, and condition priorities at all schools within 15-years.

If House Bill 1 does not pass, two options:

Case 2: prioritized renovations for reduced scope at all schools within 15-years.

If House Bill 1 does not pass, two options:

Case 2: prioritized renovations for reduced level of assessed priorities at all schools within 15-years.

Case 3: single large renovations every 2-3 years, with many schools waiting decades for improvements. (Not recommended).

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.