County Executive's CIP Recommendation Invests in MCPS, but Delays Several Projects

January 17, 2012
The Montgomery County Executive’s recommended Capital Improvements Program (CIP), released Tuesday, invests in the facility and infrastructure needs of Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), but contains reductions that will delay several projects and make it more difficult for the district to keep up with rising enrollment and aging facilities. 

County Executive Isiah Leggett is recommending a $1.36 billion Fiscal Year 2013-2018 CIP for MCPS, a reduction of $134 million from the Board of Education’s request.

“We know the County Executive had to make some very difficult decisions in developing this recommendation and we appreciate his continued dedication to the capital needs of MCPS,” said Board of Education president Shirley Brandman. “However, we are disappointed that our CIP request has been reduced. If approved, the County Executive's recommendation will delay many important projects and infrastructure improvements." 

Enrollment in MCPS has risen to 146,500 students, an all-time high and an increase of nearly 9,000 students since 2007. By the year 2017, enrollment is expected to be more than 156,000 students. Much of the enrollment growth is taking place in early grades, as evidenced by the fact that 90 percent of the district’s 350 portable classrooms are located at elementary schools. At the same time, MCPS has many aging schools and facilities and a growing need for infrastructure and technology improvements.

“I appreciate the difficult balance the County Executive must strike between our fiscal challenges and the needs of the entire county,” said Superintendent of Schools Joshua P. Starr. “Our school district is growing rapidly and we must continue to invest in our facilities and infrastructure to meet the needs of our students and our community.”

The Board of Education’s $1.489 billion CIP request for FY 2013-2018 placed a priority on building capacity, maintenance and compliance with state and federal laws. The Board’s CIP request included new additions to six elementary schools and one middle school, the construction of three new schools, and ongoing commitments to previously approved construction, maintenance and compliance projects. The Board had already delayed several secondary school modernization projects by a year.

The County Executive has recommended the following changes to the Board of Education’s requested CIP:

- An additional one-year delay to nearly all middle school modernization projects;
- An additional one-year delay to all high school modernization projects, beginning with Wheaton High School and Thomas Edison High School of Technology, which the Board of Education had voted to keep on schedule;
- A two-year delay for a new elementary school in the Richard Montgomery cluster;
- A reduction in money for technology modernization;
- The elimination of all funding for much-needed upgrades and expansion of transportation depots.

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley recently proposed a $350 million increase to school construction funding. Ms. Brandman said she hopes that Montgomery County will get more than the $40 million it anticipated from the state in FY 2013.

“I know the county and the state both care deeply about education and the serious facility needs of our public schools,” Ms. Brandman said. “We will work with the Governor, the legislature and county leaders to make sure all MCPS students have a place where they can learn, grow and thrive.”

Dr. Starr emphasized that construction costs are still low due to the economic downturn, but will rise as the economy improves in the county and the region.

“We must take advantage of this favorable market and build for the students who are here today and those who will be coming in the very near future,” Dr. Starr said.

The County Council will now begin reviewing the County Executive's recommendation. The Council will hold a public hearing on the CIP for MCPS on February 9, at 7 p.m., in the Council Hearing Room, 100 Maryland Avenue, in Rockville.

Board of Education FY 2013-2018 Capital Improvements Program Request

County Executive's Capital Improvements Program Recommendation

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