MACo: School Construction Incentive Act Needs More Input

MACo Legislative Director Kevin Kinnally yesterday testified in support with amendments on SB 551 School Construction Incentive Act of 2021 before the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee.

SB 551 creates incentives for cost-efficient school buildings and long term operational efficiency. The bill, however, leaps to specific conclusions regarding the desirability of specific measurements and standards that are not yet a matter of consensus.

From the MACo Testimony:

The incentives SB 551 envisions are very sensible: expanding the “shared costs” recognized as part of the split State/county funding responsibility, and potentially increasing the State share for projects that exhibit best practices. These concepts represent a productive starting point to promote broader pursuit of desired facility innovations.

The bill, however, leaps to specific conclusions regarding the desirability of specific measurements and standards that are not yet a matter of consensus.

In recent years, both the “Knott” Commission (21st Century School Facilities Commission) and its successor (Workgroup on the Assessment and Funding of School Facilities) have brought multiple stakeholders together to contemplate matters such as a uniform facility index. No consensus on the details of such a calculation has yet been reached, and thus legislation attaching potentially dramatic incentives to this scorecard is inherently premature. Measurements and policies that fairly and reasonably balance the complex and sometimes contradictory matters of “urgency” and “prudent actions” should be an element of consensus rather than conjecture.

Further, the “total cost of ownership” model, spelled out in detail in SB 551, may in practice amount to a reshaping of the next generation of school facilities. If a certain type of school building – potentially far different than those meeting our schoolchildren’s needs today – become the favored style, SB 551 could have consequences far beyond the current pilot and opt-in programs. Not every community is ideally suited for
converted commercial spaces, vertical designs, or other new-look school visions that may score well on the not-yet-determined metrics.

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2021 legislative session on MACo’s Legislative Tracking Database.

Close Menu
%d bloggers like this: