State Okays School Construction Funds for Leased Facilities

The State’s Interagency Commission on School Construction approved a change in state regulations to allow state school construction dollars to be used toward leased facilities, rather than just public school-owned buildings. The move was made based on requests from local school systems, and includes both charter schools and the need for pre-kindergarten space.

The central entity guiding and overseeing public school construction, the Interagency Commission met on May 11 (via teleconference) to consider a range of topics, including a staff-developed item to advance new regulations regarding the use of state funds beyond the current limitations restricting it to buildings and projects owned by school systems.

Here is the IAC write-up, placed before the members for the meeting:

The full language of the proposed regulations were included, along with the summary above, in the IAC meeting agenda.

An exchange by the Commission Chair, former State Senator Edward Kasemeyer, illuminated the framing of the proposal and decision:

Ed Kasemeyer, IAC Chair:  For the most part, this will be utilized by the LEAs [Local Education Agencies, the public school systems] to provide the space they need… but this also allows charter schools to use this process?

Alex Donahue, IAC Director: It does… through the LEAs.

Kasemeyer: Okay…but is this going to make it more difficult for a charter school to commit to a 25 year life [a requirement under the proposed new standards]…they probably don’t want to do that, I’m assuming…it would…discourage them from doing this, wouldn’t it?

Donahue: …A charter school looking to make a capital improvement a leased facility, it can work with the LEA that chartered it, to take advantage of this policy.

At the meeting, the motion made was made to confine the changes to the IAC Procedures Guide, rather than the formal agency regulations that would go through a more formal approval process to become incorporated into COMAR. Following discussion by Commission members, the motion was approved.

The full IAC meeting was broadcast on YouTube and may be viewed online.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties