FY23 School Facility “Report Cards” Are Here – Did Your County Make the Grade?

The Interagency Commission on School Construction has published the 2023 annual Maintenance-Effectiveness Assessment report reviewing the condition of school facilities.

The Interagency Commission on School Construction (IAC) FY 2023 Maintenance-Effectiveness Assessment report is now available on the IAC website.

Beginning with the IAC’s FY 2021 assessments, the IAC implemented a new Maintenance Effectiveness Assessment (MEA). The new MEA has streamlined the elements assessed by the IAC and now takes into account additional categories of Maintenance Management, including Preventive Maintenance plans and the use of Computerized Maintenance Management Systems.

Background and methods

During Fiscal Year 2023, the IAC in partnership with LEAs, performed Maintenance Effectiveness Assessments (MEAs) on 170 public schools out of the 1,370 active schools. The sample represents 13 percent of Maryland’s PK-12 public school facilities.

The report states:

These MEAs constitute the third batch of assessments using the post-FY 2020 approach, which provides for greater consistency and comparability across facilities and LEAs and is calibrated to reflect whether the LEA’s maintenance effectiveness is sufficient to maintain the expected functionality of its facilities for educational purposes and to achieve the expected lifespans for the major building systems and the facilities overall.

In selecting facilities to assess during FY 2023, the IAC first prioritized the school facilities that had not been assessed within the last six fiscal years or were at least three years old and had never received an assessment. The IAC assessed approximately 13% of facilities in each LEA. To ensure each LEA’s final results were a reflection of each LEA’s overall average maintenance effectiveness, a minimum of three facilities were assessed in each LEA. For the LEAs that implement multiple maintenance service centers to manage designated areas, care was taken to conduct MEAs distributed as proportionally as possible in each service area.

The MEA assessment rates schools into five standard ratings: “Superior,” “Good,” “Adequate,” “Not Adequate,” and “Poor.”

The rubric groups school building-system components into 21 categories within four groups to assess facilities. To focus the assessment’s scoring on those categories that are likely to have the most significant potential impact on teaching and learning, each category receives a value of between three and ten points.

In turn, the building components of those 21 categories are weighted to better reflect their impact on the facility’s utility into “Minor Deficiency” and “Major Deficiency.”

More details on how the IAC assesses and scores school facilities for the MEAs can be found in the FY 23 report.

Key FY 23 Maintenance Effective Assessment findings

  • The statewide average maintenance-effectiveness rating by facility was 70.57%, which falls within the Adequate range under the IAC’s rating system.
  • 0 facilities (0%) were rated Superior
  • 4 facilities (2.3%) were rated Good
  • 106 facilities (61.6%) were rated Adequate
  • 57 facilities (33.1%) were rated Not Adequate
  • 5 facilities (2.9%) were rated Poor

In more detail:

  • 23 of 24 — or 96% — of LEAs accrued no major deficiencies, which are items that pose an immediate threat to life, safety, or health of occupants; delivery of educational programs or services; or the expected lifespan of the facility. The only two unremediated major deficiencies remaining were found in the same facility.
  • 12 of 24 — or 50% — of LEAs averaged one unremediated minor deficiency per facility or fewer. These same 12 LEAs all earned an average overall maintenance-effectiveness rating of Adequate. Talbot County and Wicomico County were the only two LEAs that had no unremediated deficiencies.

Furthermore, the IAC found that the average facility age — determined by the average age of square footage within LEA school facilities — across Maryland remains 31 years (the same as the 2022 assessment). Kent County has the highest average facility age rating (44.7 years), while Talbot County has the lowest (18.1 years).

County findings

County-specific data starts on page 25 of the report and is linked below.

New to this year’s report, the IAC provides these findings in an interactive map on its website so counties and other stakeholders can more easily understand what the data means for their communities.

Compared to 2022

The IAC notes that compared with results from FY 2022, the average overall rating for a facility in FY 2023 decreased by 2.49 percent, likely due to several factors:

As compared with results from FY 2022, the average overall rating for a facility in FY 2023 decreased by 2.49%. It is likely that multiple factors caused the decrease in facility ratings, such as merging the Custodial Scope of Work (SoW) and Pest Management categories and increasing the weight of the Preventive Maintenance (PM) and Computerized Maint. Mgmt. System (incl. Equip. Data) categories as mentioned on page 7.

MACo worked extensively to improve the facility assessment process

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 facility 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.

Review the FY 23 MEAs report.

Access the FY 22 findings.