Projects at Dynard postponed due to lack of state funds
New formula limits state construction funding for public schools in the state
St. Mary’s school staff are getting about $3 million less than requested in state funding for the school system’s fiscal 2020 state capital improvements plan.
School staff initially requested earlier this year $7.6 million in state funding for projects at six schools, but are now only expecting $4.7 million.
They have already decided to defer requesting state funding for the roof and heating ventilation and air-conditioning sys- temic renovations at Dynard Elementar y School.
Rita Weaver, school board member, said she was concerned about how state officials are changing the way capital projects are funded. She said she felt that because school staff stayed “on top of things” by keeping buildings in decent shape, it could hurt funding opportunities in the future because the system’s average is potentially lower than districts who recently completed larger construction projects.
“It’s not worked in our favor,” Weaver said.
Projects still scheduled to receive funding starting next fiscal year include roof, HVAC and sewer lift station projects at Park Hall Elementary School; moving a relocatable trailer classroom to Park Hall; roof, HVAC and emergency power projects at Hollywood Elementary School; a partial roof replacement at Great Mills High School; and a switch gear and HVAC projects at Green Holly Elementary.
Kim Howe, public schools’ director of capital planning, said at a Dec. 12 school board meeting that staff will not appeal for additional money because of “limits on potential additional funding and limits of locking in at fiscal 2020 costs.”
State funding will be based on a three year average instead of a two year average now, with St. Mary’s current average at $4.6 million, Howe said.
Howe said staff take pride in taking care of school sites. With a lack of state funding, she said maintaining the buildings will slow down and they will age more quickly.
Cathy Allen, school board vice chairwoman, said value engineering, or aiming to complete a project that has a low cost and a better value, is “just not the way to go.” She said one example of value engineering is the state of the current Hollywood Elementary roof. “We’re spending more in the long run,” she said.
Howe said capacity projects, like a new elementary school off of Route 5 south of Great Mills Road, an addition to Lettie Marshall Dent Elementary and a new secondary school have all been moved out of immediate budget plans based on current and projected enrollment trends.
Funding that would have been used for the design portions of those capacity projects is now “to be utilized to address life-cycle replacement and deferred maintenance projects,” Howe said.
Projects that are on the horizon include modernizing the inside of Mechanicsville Elementary, another partial roof replacement at Great Mills High School, new football stadium lights at Leonardtown High, new audio equipment at all three high school football stadiums and paving at a variety of schools.