Board President and Interim Superintendent Ask MD Governor for More CIP Support
Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) is the largest school system in the state and our student enrollment continues to grow. We are experiencing our eighth straight year of record enrollment growth, adding nearly 19,000 students since 2007. To keep pace, we must expand existing facilities and construct new schools. To do this requires greater state investment in school construction in Montgomery County.
Last week, we submitted the letter below to Governor Hogan advocating for additional state funding and providing three strategic options for meet this need. Each of these options will help us ensure that we have sufficient space to accommodate our growing student population and adequate facilities to support our educational programs.
The Honorable Lawrence J. Hogan, Jr.
Governor of Maryland
100 State Circle
Annapolis, Maryland 21401-1925
Dear Governor Hogan:
We appreciated the opportunity to testify last week in front of the Board of Public Works to advocate for a greater state investment in school construction in Montgomery County. As we shared in our written testimony, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) is experiencing its eighth straight year of record enrollment growth—an increase of nearly 19,000 students since 2007. Without additional investment of state construction dollars, we will not be able to keep pace with this extraordinary growth.
We recognize that the state continues to face fiscal challenges, which is why we specifically emphasized in our testimony all that we have done to keep construction costs low in our local school construction program. We strive to be good fiscal stewards and do all that we can to ensure that we spend every taxpayer dollar wisely and prudently. Our county has invested significantly to provide sufficient classroom space for our growing enrollment; however, we simply cannot meet the demand without additional state funding. That is why we respectfully request for this additional funding and provide the following three options to accomplish this need:
1) We have strongly advocated for the last two years for a new state revenue stream of $20 million per year to Montgomery County that would allow us to authorize the issuance of approximately $700 million in construction bonds. This would provide us with an immediate infusion of funds to begin work on dozens of shovel-ready projects to relieve our overcrowded buildings. This state solution is based on the “Baltimore City Model” approved by the General Assembly where the state provided $20 million and the local government provided a $40-million investment to support the bond program. The $60-million revenue stream can support bonds of up to $700 million for construction projects over the next six years. With capital projects in the pipeline just waiting for funds to become available, our construction program would benefit tremendously from this investment.
2) The annual statewide allocation for school construction could be increased to at least $400 million. Of that $400 million, Montgomery County could receive at least 17.6 percent to allow us to provide seats for our growing student population through new schools, additions, and our revitalization/expansion program. MCPS makes up 17.6 of the student enrollment in the state and therefore increasing the state’s investment to $70 million would reflect that. This would ensure equity between student enrollment and state construction funding.
3) The Capital Grant Program for Local School Systems with Significant Enrollment Growth or Relocatable Classrooms legislation, approved by the Maryland General Assembly in April 2015, could be amended to increase funding. Currently, the legislation has earmarked $20 million for local school systems with student enrollment growth that exceeds 150 percent of the statewide average over the past five years or has an average of more than 300 relocatable classrooms in service over the past five years. For FY 2016, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Howard, Montgomery, and Prince George’s counties benefited from this grant. This allocation could be increased to $50 million in order to provide additional funding for the counties that meet the grant requirements. These additional funds will be essential to meet the need for more classrooms and better schools to ensure a high quality teaching and learning environment for all Montgomery County students and students in other districts.
We ask that you seriously consider these three options, all of which we believe are viable to meet the demands of our unprecedented growth. Your continued support is critical to our county’s efforts to meet the program and facility needs of our students and communities.
Montgomery County is a prime driver of our state and region’s economy and we want to ensure that we are our giving our children every opportunity to succeed. We need to invest in our future workforce to keep our economy strong and our future bright. We look forward to working with you to ensure that we have sufficient space to accommodate our growing student population and adequate facilities to support our educational programs. Thank you for your consideration and partnership on behalf of our 156,000 students.
Michael A. Durso, President
Montgomery County Board of Education
Larry A. Bowers
Interim Superintendent of Schools