Leggett Hails State Passage of $20 Million Matching Fund for School Construction Funding
“I want to thank Speaker Michael Busch and the members of our Delegation who made bringing home additional funds to help us address our public school construction issues their number one priority,” said Leggett in a statement released today. “Passing this legislation shows a commitment to working with Montgomery County to address the ongoing challenges of capacity problems in our public schools.”
“I also appreciate the support we are receiving from Senate President Mike Miller and our Senate delegation,” he added.
Last year, Leggett joined with County Executives Rushern Baker of Prince George’s County and Kevin Kamenetz of Baltimore County, as well as with the Montgomery delegation and the Montgomery County Board of Education, in a campaign to win approval of a new source of school construction revenue from the State to be matched by the counties to address school construction needs.
Speaker Busch joined House and Senate leaders today to announce the passage of legislation that will provide additional school construction funding for counties struggling to keep up with significant student enrollment growth and counties trying to eliminate reliance on portable classrooms.
Legislation sponsored by Ways and Means Chairman Sheila Hixson (D20- Montgomery County) and Senator Nancy King (D39- Montgomery County) calls for $20 million more annually in school construction funding to be divided among counties (1) where student enrollment growth exceeds 150% of the statewide average over the past 5 years; or (2) with an average of more than 300 relocatable classrooms over the past 5 years.
“It is imperative that we provide healthy learning environments for all of our public school students. Jurisdictions that attract more students shouldn’t be disadvantaged in meeting that goal,” said Senator King who has been the primary sponsor of the bill for two years in a row.
For FY 2016, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Howard, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties will benefit from the additional funding. Each will receive a share of the funding proportionate to its student enrollment. Local governments will be required to contribute matching dollars for each project funded.
“I am proud of the work of the Appropriations Committee in not only passing this important legislation, but also finding funding a year earlier than expected,” said Speaker Busch. “I commend the delegation members who advocate tirelessly for their public school systems. Legislators from these five counties have consistently advocated for the public school children of their districts and have worked with other counties to make modern school facilities a reality in their jurisdictions.”
The House Appropriations Committee will include $20 million for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2015 as part of the State Capital Budget bill, also passed today. The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee is also expected to pass the legislation today.
While five counties qualify for the funding this year, jurisdictions will move in and out of the program based on their ability to qualify in any given year.
“I continue to be amazed by the General Assembly and its ongoing commitment to our public schools,” said Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker. “Not only its insistence that school operations are funded at necessary and appropriate levels but that our facilities keep pace with the high caliber of educational achievement we set for our children.”
“My top capital priority is constructing schools that will improve our children’s learning environments,” said Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh. “I’m grateful for the leadership of the Speaker and Anne Arundel County Delegates to push through a bill that will provide much needed funds for our County’s schools. I look forward to working with our State partners to ensure all children have the best schools possible.”
“I am very appreciative of the General Assembly for their hard work on the budget. These funds will allow Baltimore County to continue its’ $1.1 billion Schools for our Future initiative to address our increasing student population and our aging school infrastructure,” said Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. “Baltimore County is prepared to match this funding with shovel ready projects that will further upgrade our school buildings, ease overcrowding and provide a boost to the local economy with construction jobs.”
For FY 2016, the Department of Legislative Services estimates that formulas in the legislation will yield approximately:
Montgomery County: $5.8M
Prince George’s County: $4.8M
Baltimore County: $4.2M
Anne Arundel County: $3M
Howard County: $2M
The Interagency Committee on School Construction (IAC) will administer the program. The legislation mandates funding beginning in FY 2017. The legislation will bring total school construction funding for FY2016 to $300 million statewide.