School Construction Work Group Concerned About School Facilities Assessment Process

The Workgroup on the Assessment and Funding of School Facilities met on October 20 for a fourth time, without school facilities assessment data, despite deadline.

The Workgroup on the Assessment and Funding of School Facilities, created by 2021 legislation, met on October 20 expecting to consider data captured by the School Facilities Assessment, managed by the Interagency Commission on School Construction (IAC). Instead, IAC Director Robert Gorrell took questions from the workgroup on the status of data collection and the IAC’s processes.

Chair Maggie McIntosh expressed disappointment and invited local school systems to testify before the workgroup’s upcoming November 4 meeting on their experiences with the School Facilities Assessment process.

Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner, a longtime veteran of multiple similar efforts, and the county representative on the workgroup, questioned Gorrell on the IAC’s data collection process and pressed him on how the IAC worked with LEAs on the assessment.

Gorrell noted that data sets are still being finalized due to issues including duplicated, missing, and erroneous data, totaling about .5% of all data collected and analyzed.

Other topics of discussion included a presentation from Department of Legislative Services staff on the cost sharing formula for school construction and the Revolving Loan Fund (RLF).

Workgroup members discussed the importance of capturing more detailed demographic and employment data in the cost sharing formulas, as well as expanding what the State considers “eligible” cost projects, and therefore shares in funding. County Executive Gardener pointed to designated space for English language learners as an example of capital projects that, thus far, has been 100% funded by counties.

The RLF was created by the 21st Century School Facilities Act (Chapter 14 of 2018) and essentially allows counties to forward-fund school construction under the assumption that they will be reimbursed for all or most of the costs by the State. Additionally, Chapter 698 of 2021 (“Built to Learn 2.0”) instructed the workgroup to consider and make recommendations on the purpose and implementation of the RLF, which is still in process of being set up. Remaining matters for the workgroup to address include whether the fund will be a one-time program or ongoing and how much money to dedicate to it.

The meeting materials and agenda are available on the General Assembly’s website.

The video of the meeting is available on the General Assembly’s YouTube site.

Read prior Conduit Street Blog coverage of the workgroup: