The Interagency Commission on School Construction has published an inaugural annual fiscal year report, which includes details on school construction spending, the annual Statewide Facilities Assessments report, and the Annual Maintenance-Effectiveness Report.
The Interagency Commission on School Construction (IAC) inaugural Fiscal Year 2022 Annual Report is now available on the IAC website. The IAC has traditionally published information related to each of its funding programs and activities for public information on the IAC website or as required by statute. However, the IAC had not yet published a comprehensive annual report.
Per the report’s introduction:
highlighted in this report are new and traditional activities of the IAC, from the implementation of the inaugural Statewide Facilities Assessment taking significant steps towards a comparable condition score for every public K-12 school facility in Maryland, to the 51st year of capital funding for school construction and renovation since the start of the State’s investment in facilities through the IAC in 1971. The report also includes school spotlights, reference data, and thoughts from members of the Commission and retired State Treasurer Nancy Kopp.
The report is provided, in conjunction with the IAC’s website, as a tool for public information regarding the IAC’s programs and services. It states, “With a shared mission to achieve a safe, healthy, and educationally sufficient learning environment for every child attending a public school in Maryland, the IAC collaborates with Local Education Agencies (LEAs) in an effort for constant improvement and long-term sustainability of our state’s portfolio of schools.”
School construction funding highlights
During Fiscal Year 2022, the IAC in partnership with LEAs performed 265 Maintenance Effectiveness Assessments, managed six public k-12 funding program, two private k-12 funding programs, and oversaw 12 school openings around the state. In total, the IAC awarded $1,247,246,141 in school construction and capital improvement project funds during Fiscal Year 2022.
2022 Statewide Facilities Assessment
The IAC report details the 2022 Statewide Facilities Assessment (SFA), which evaluated a total of 1,383 schools. The report reads:
The purpose of the Statewide Facilities Assessment (SFA) is to assess thephysical condition and educational sufficiency of school facilities in Marylandto give the State the ability to identify the facilities with the highest needs, andto provide critical information to both State and local decision makers so theyare better equipped to focus capital dollars on those facilities. The baseline SFA, which assessed all public school facilities in the state, was completed in July of 2021 and the IAC will re-assess each school at least every four years to ensure the data is up to date, as mandated by law.
The SFA results in Facility Condition Index (FCI), which describes the physical condition of public school facilities in Maryland. That assessment found that statewide, public school facilities received an average FCI of 47%. The lower the FCI, the better, with a score of 47% indicating that the buildings are:
Visibly in need of repair. Conditions verge on uncomfortable with some areas of the facility worse than others. Building generally functions OK, but occasionally becomes unreliable. LEA should be considering and planning improvement solutions.Building functions have become unreliable.Not esthetically or environmentally comfortable in some or all areas of the facility. Should be considered imminently for improvements (including potential renovation/replacement).
That said, an average score of 47% is just above satisfactory conditions, which falls between the FCI scores of 30-45%.
2022 Maintenance-Effectiveness Assessments
The report also detailed the most recent Maintenance-Effectiveness Assessments (MEAs) evaluated 265 schools that were chosen “based on their being unevaluated for the last six fiscal years, being at least three years old or, or never being reviewed.”
The report states:
Fiscal Year 2022 saw the second year of the IAC’s new Maintenance-EffectivenessAssessment (MEA) process. The MEA implemented in FY 2021 differs significantly fromthe previous maintenance surveys. It introduced a system to recognize major and minor deficiencies in maintenance, recalibrated the rating scale and category weights to be better aligned with industry standards, and reorganized and added assessment categories. The new MEA introduced a category for maintenance management, which includes maintaining and following preventive maintenance plans and utilizing a computerized maintenance management system in certain ways.
Of the 265 schools assessed:
- 189 schools were rated as “adequate,” which is defined as “maintenance is sufficient to achieve the life of each system within the facility and, with appropriate capital spending and renewal, the total expected lifespan.”
- 22 schools received a “good” rating for buildings that will likely extend beyond the life of expectancy. Not schools received a “superior” rating in 2022.
- 52 schools across five school systems (Allegany, Kent, Prince George’s, Queen Anne’s and Somerset Counties) were classified as “not adequate.” Two schools — one each in Allegany and Prince George’s counties — were classified as “poor,” which means those buildings show “evidence of significant or extensive corrosion or leaks, inconsistent custodial or maintenance practices, or extensive repairs or replacement needed.”
Furthermore, the IAC found that the average facility age — determined by the average age of square footage within LEA school facilities — across Maryland is currently 31 years, with Baltimore City having a greater share of aging school buildings, wile Talbot County has the youngest buildings in the state.
MACo worked extensively to improve the facility assessment process and to improve school construction decision making and cost-sharing
In 2021, the IAC began implementing changes in the school facilities assessment process and rankings, under the supervision of the Workgroup on the Assessment and Funding of School Facilities. The Workgroup was created via legislation in 2021 and was tasked with evaluating multiple components of school construction projects and facilities conditions by the end of 2021. Notably, Frederick County Executive and former MACo President Jan Gardner helped inform and guide the interim workgroup’s recommendations as a workgroup member.
Those recommendations were then turned into legislation that MACo supported and helped pass.
That legislation reasonably balanced the needs of local governments to build and maintain safe, long-lasting school facilities and manage fiscal responsibility. Counties were particularly pleased with the bill’s state add-on incentives regarding total cost of ownership, net zero projects, and aid to school projects with high concentrations of poverty.
Counties were also enthusiastic about HB 1290’s establishment and implementation of the Local Revolving Loan Fund, to allow low-debt capacity counties to forward fund state and local funding for capital school projects. MACo worked to ensure the loan program’s terms were favorable for the diverse fiscal needs and realities of Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions.