School Construction Work Group Ends, Recommends Changes to State Funding Calculations and Facilities Assessments

At its December 15 meeting, the Workgroup on the Assessment and Funding of School Facilities decided on a final set of recommendations for the General Assembly to consider.

The Workgroup met for a final time today, during which it made major decisions about on calculations of the State share in school construction project funding and on school facilities assessments. Today’s meeting was a follow-up to a December 1 meeting when the group started making recommendations  to present to the General Assembly for the upcoming legislative session.

The work group was created via legislation in 2021. It was tasked with evaluating multiple components of school construction projects and facilities conditions by the end of this year.

State share of funding for school construction projects

The Workgroup was tasked with deciding how the Interagency Commission on School Construction (IAC) should determine the maximum amount of State funding for school construction projects. These calculations are a combination of the projected school enrollment and the Gross Area Baselines — the square footage needed to perform school functions, per student.

Among the decisions made on State funding:

  • Addressing concerns with enrollment projections:
    • Asking the IAC to establish guidelines to set a floor on how much available excess space is in a school facility before it would count against the projected enrollment of that school; and
    • Asking the IAC to establish an appeals process on projected enrollment for the full IAC’s consideration (currently, schools can appeal the IAC’s construction project decisions, but not enrollment projections that determine the State’s share of funding).
  • Requiring the IAC to study determinants for Gross Area Baselines for school construction projects that are eligible for State funding in-line with the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, to include, but not be limited to:
    • English-language learners;
    • Community schools/schools eligible for Concentration of Poverty grants;
    • Collaborative planning spaces for teachers (taking into consideration there will be more teachers in schools as additional collaborative time during the school day is phased in);
    • Break out space for more one-on-one and small group instruction; and
    • Career and Technical Education (CTE) pathways.
  • Creating a State-funded incentive to add 5% of State funding per “green” project a school undergoes that would make the school a carbon net 0 facility.

School facilities assessments 

The Workgroup was tasked with determining key factors in the IAC’s school facilities conditions and assessments programs, including what kind of qualitative and quantitative data should be captured by facilities assessments.

Among the new recommendations adopted by the workgroups:

  • The Priority Fund shall begin in FY 27, funded at $80 million annually. a. The Healthy School Facility Fund shall be extended until FY 26.
  • The IAC is not authorized to use the assessment data to determine any funding decisions until the IAC has created an integrated data system for the assessment data, including preventative maintenance schedules, where all details are accessible by local education agencies.
  • The IAC may use the assessment data to provide context in IAC programs, but not to determine any funding decisions within the programs, until May 1, 2026.
  • Various guidelines regarding IAC transparency and accountability.

Additionally, the Workgroup recommended the creation of a new legislative workgroup be formed in July 2024 to determine Maryland Condition Index (MDCI) categories and weights to be used for the Priority Fund in FY 27.

These final recommendations will be drafted into legislation and presented before the General Assembly for consideration in 2022.

Video of the December 15 meeting is available on the General Assembly’s YouTube channel.

The meeting agenda and materials are available online.

Read prior Conduit Street Blog coverage of the work group: