“Further Discussion” Topics Would Dramatically Change School Construction Funding

Knott Commission members discuss areas of potential consensus, leaving several areas for further discussion untouched.

The Knott Commission is nearing its December reporting date. Areas of potential consensus, according to a handout distributed at the 21st Century School Facilities Commission (the Knott Commission), include conducting a statewide facility assessment using an integrated data system. Areas for further discussion, however, would determine how that facility assessment is used, and other changes to state school funding distribution.

As pointed out by Commissioner and Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner, those areas for further discussion could have a major effect on school construction funding. However, the areas for further discussion were not discussed this week.

For example, one area for further discussion includes how the results of the assessment are incorporated into project funding decisions. Another relates to how changing eligible costs for school construction could result in funding for fewer projects per year, and yet another describes the possibility of removing capital maintenance projects from eligibility for state school construction funding.

Chairman Martin Knott said the Commission will finalize its recommendations before its final meeting in December.

“If anyone thinks we’re stuck in the past, we’re not. We’re moving forward. We’re taking bold initiatives,” Knott said.

For more information, see the video of the hearing.

School Construction will be a topic of several sessions at the MACo Winter Conference.

Learn more about MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference:

Anne Arundel Breaks Ground on Crofton High School

Thirteenth High School is First Incrementally New High School Built in the County since 1982

Anne Arundel County has broken ground on Crofton High School. The project is a $124.5 million, 275,768 square foot incrementally new high school that will serve approximately 1700 students.

According to a press release:

“Welcome to history. After decades of waiting, Crofton residents finally will have a first-class high school for their community. Crofton High School is a perfect example of our initiative to accelerate school construction in Anne Arundel County. “This new high school is not only our first incrementally new high school in more than 30 years, it is the first real, tangible step in creating smaller, neighborhood schools,” said Schuh.

These capital projects were made possible through the JumpStart Anne Arundel capital project financing program. Enacted in 2015, the capital plan embraces a 30-year bond financing option.

The last incrementally new high school constructed in the County is Broadneck High School, which was completed in 1982. Crofton High School is slated to open in the Fall of 2020.

Read the full press release for more information.

The Conduit Street Podcast Is Back!

After a brief hiatus, the Conduit Street Podcast is back! In this episode, Kevin Kinnally and Michael Sanderson discuss new developments in state and local education funding, federal tax reform, and Maryland’s state fiscal picture.

MACo has made the podcast available through iTunes by searching Conduit Street Podcast. You can also listen on our Conduit Street blog with a recap and link to the podcast.

Listen here:


Dust Settles on State’s Revised School Construction Contributions

The Board of Public Works limits the changes in percents to one year, and holds all counties harmless from reductions in percent contributions from the State. 

Maryland counties and the state share responsibility for funding school construction for the K-12 school system. The amount of funding that the state provides to an individual school system is set in code, and is based on a calculation of wealth of the school system’s district. The aim is that the State provides a larger share of funding to projects in counties that have less local wealth to support new school construction.

The state cost-share percentages have now been set for FY 2019. As described in Revised State Share Percentages for School Construction May Be Revised Again, there were several versions of the percentages this year.  In the prior two versions, seven counties would have seen a decrease in the State’s percentage contributions.

The percentages adopted by the Board of Public Works hold all counties harmless from decreases in the state’s cost-share.

The Board also limited its decision to FY 2019, rather than the typical 3-year term for new cost-share percentages. This decision will allow for another look at the percentages, and could allow for changes and updates to the formula used to set the percentages.

See the percentages adopted for FY 2019 below. The highlights in the chart are revisions made by the Board of Public Works that hold counties harmless. For more information, see the Board of Public Works Agenda.

Screenshot 2017-11-08 16.13.20

At MACo’s Winter Conference the Chair of the 21st Century School Facilities Commission, Martin Knott, and Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh will speak about the shared state/county responsibility for K-12 school construction.

Learn more about MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference:

Maryland Launches “NSA Day of Cyber” School Challenge

The Maryland State Department of Education has announced the launch of the Maryland “NSA Day of Cyber” School Challenge, a free, online program that allows students to experience a day in the life of the nation’s top cybersecurity experts – in just three hours. The program enables students to take a seat beside the NSA Cyber Threat Director and test drive a day in the life of six NSA cyber professionals.

According to a press release:

Thousands of open and unfilled cybersecurity jobs are present in Maryland and across the country. The demand for cybersecurity professionals is growing twelve times faster than the overall job market. The NSA Day of Cyber School Challenge is a way for Maryland to help prepare students for the rewarding and impactful careers in this high-demand field.

WHEN: November 7, 2017- February 28, 2018

A kick-off event will be held Tuesday, November 7 from 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm at the Universities Space Research Association, 7178 Columbia Gateway Drive, Columbia, Maryland 21046.

HOW IT WORKS: The challenge will kick-off on November 7, 2017 with the Maryland STEM Festival’s Night of Cybersecurity and will culminate on February 28, 2018. Educators from across the state are encouraged to select a day during that time period to run the NSA Day of Cyber experience. The program can be utilized in a classroom setting or educators can choose to have students participate at home. No teacher training is required and students only need a computer with internet access.

The schools and teachers with the highest student participation in the program will be recognized by the Maryland State Department of Education. The schools with the highest student participation will be based on the number of students who have completed the introductory portion of the NSA Day of Cyber platform and have generated their “Cyber Resume.”

Helpful Tips for running the NSA Day of Cyber in the classroom are available in the Instructor Resource Guide found on the NSA Day of Cyber website, https://www.nsadayofcyber.com/.

Schools can register for the Maryland Day of Cyber School Challenge by using the following link: http://bit.ly/MDDayofCyberChallenge.

‘Apprenticeship Maryland’ Stories of Success, Potential for Expansion

Secretary Kelly Schulz discussed the success of the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation’s Apprenticeship Maryland program at an event in Hagerstown.

Apprenticeship Maryland is currently being piloted in public schools in Washington and Frederick counties as a means of exposing children to skilled trades. Schulz shared the possibility of expanding the program statewide and to new industries.

The Herald-Mail reports:

The two-year pilots will conclude with the end of this school year, and state officials will have to determine what to do going forward, she said.

Traditionally, apprenticeships have been linked to skilled trades, such as the courses offered through the Barr Construction Institute at the Associated Builders and Contractors Cumberland Valley Chapter in Hagerstown, she said.

“Why would we not pick up where we left off with the building trades and bring that to our other industries?” she asked.

The article continues with Schulz explaining that while schools have focused on preparing kids for college they have lacked on the career readiness piece that Apprenticeship Maryland seeks to improve. Tweaks to the program have already allowed for more help to the schools and employers. The Secretary notes that while the pilots are still being evaluated, it is already evident that flexibility will be key should the program be expanded statewide.

Numbers Show County Commitment to School Construction

An analysis by the Department of Legislative Services to the 21st Century School Facilities Commission reveals nearly $2 billion of budgeted expenditures by county governments from fiscal years 2013 to 2015, plus additional cash contributions.


Screenshot 2017-11-03 10.49.48.pngThe county commitment to school construction throughout Maryland was clear this morning in the 21st Century School Facilities Commission meeting of the funding subcommittee.

Michael Rubenstein of the Maryland Department of Legislative Services presented data collected from capital budgets and surveys of county governments on their school construction expenditures.

“The counties are putting in substantially more than the State is for this endeavor”  –Michael Rubenstein, Department of Legislative Services

Janice Spiegel, sitting in for Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner on the subcommittee, noted that the numbers considered were from several years ago, as counties emerged from the recession.

On the subject of cash expenditures, rather than debt, the group discussed how recordation taxes, education surcharges, and impact fees might be used for school construction, but may not be reported year-to-year as part of the capital budget line item. If not reported, then those expenditures might not be factored into the equation that determines what percent of state funding a local jurisdiction receives.

“It would seem today from the discussion that what is needed is a common definition of PAYGO.” –Janice Spiegel, Frederick County Education Liaison

For more about this meeting of the 21st Century School Facilities Commission, see A Check-up for Maryland’s School Facilities.

For more information on funding, see the presentation by the Department of Legislative Services, Local School Construction.

MACo’s Summer Conference will feature a General Session on school construction–a conversation between Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh and Martin Knott, Chair of the 21st Century School Facilities Commission.

Learn more about MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference:

A Check-up for Maryland’s School Facilities

The funding subcommittee of the 21st Century School Facilities Commission is coming to consensus on the need for a statewide school facilities assessment, an idea put forth by the new Executive Director of Maryland’s Public School Program. 

Martin Knott, Chair of the 21st Century School Facilities Commission will speak at MACo’s Winter Conference.

The high cost of school construction has been a hot topic among county governments and the State. Counties and the State jointly fund many capital construction projects for Maryland’s K-12 educational system.

While there are many different approaches to reducing costs and continuing to meet the needs of the modern educational programs, several key parties seem to agree that a starting point could be a statewide facilities assessment, a check-up on the condition of buildings, to determine the state of Maryland’s schools.

Those parties include the State’s Executive Director of Public School Construction and the 21st Century School Facilities Commission, a body created by the Presiding Officers of the General Assembly.

At the most recent meeting of the Commission, the first item on a list of topics for potential consensus was conducting a facilities assessment.

The estimate of the cost of the assessment is $3.5 million for a full-scale assessment that would be done in less than a year, possibly 10 months.

There is also interest in creating an integrated data system that would capture reporting on facilities from local school boards and allow for ongoing reviews of school conditions. This type of system would come at an additional cost, however.

The Commission is also considering the idea of changing the current funding models to reserve a certain amount of funding for high-need projects. Use of a facility condition index to prioritize funding is something that has been suggested by the Executive Director of Public School Construction.

For more information see the Areas of potential consensus and Decision Matrix handouts.

The MACo Winter Conference will host Martin Knott, Chair of the 21st Century School Facilities Commission, for a conversation on school construction.

Learn more about MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference:

Set Your Sites: Strategies for Building Better Schools

MACo’s Winter Conference General Session, Set Your Sites: Strategies for Building Better Schools will focus on ways that counties can use partnerships to build modern schools in a cost-effective way.

Screenshot 2017-10-31 15.49.25
A chart from a presentation of Bob Gorrell,  Director of the Maryland Public School Construction Program, to the Knott Commission.

School construction costs have doubled in fifteen years, and demands to modernize education infrastructure continue to mount. With a new state lead on public school construction and a statewide commission on school construction wrapping up its work, 2018 promises to bring change.

The size of schools, the way they are furnished, and how they are built are all hot topics. How will these changes affect counties that provide school construction funding? The MACo Winter Conference General Session will focus on county school construction programs, exploring financing and structural challenges, and partnership approaches to face daunting capacity needs.

Speaker: Martin Knott, Chair, Maryland 21st Century School Facilities Commission

Moderator: Steve Schuh, County Executive, Anne Arundel County

Date/Time: Thursday, December 7, 2017; 10:30 am – 11:45 am

Read ahead: For background on this discussion, see the agenda and handouts from the Knott Commission’s Funding Subcommittee meeting.

Learn more about MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference:

Caroline Entertains Income Tax Rate Increase

The Commissioners of Caroline County will entertain a possible income tax increase at their meeting on Tuesday, October 31 at 10 a.m.

The proposed increase from 2.73 percent to 3.2 percent would provide funding for two major projects: replacement of Greensboro Elementary School and construction of new building to house the Caroline County Sheriff’s Office.

According to the Caroline County Board of Education, Greensboro Elementary is overcrowded and overdue for renovation or replacement.  Based on preliminary engineering, building a new school on the existing site would be less expensive than renovating the existing structure.  The total cost of the Greensboro Elementary project is roughly $46 million.  The County expects its share to be around $18 million, with the remainder paid by the State.

The Caroline County Sheriff’s Office currently occupies space in the basement of the County Detention Center.  The cost of the Sheriff’s Office building is expected to be around $3.5 million.  This structure would be built on land owned by the County on Double Hills Road.  This project must be fully funded with local dollars.

The income tax rate must be set by November 1 for the following year.  Those interested in providing comment on the proposal are invited to attend the meeting.