Projects at Dy­nard post­poned due to lack of state funds

New for­mula lim­its state con­struc­tion fund­ing for pub­lic schools in the state

The Enterprise - - Front Page - By JAC­QUI ATKIELSKI jatkiel­[email protected]­news.com Weaver Twit­ter: @Jac­quiEn­tNews

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.

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