ANNAPOLIS – Citing a burgeoning school-age population, aging buildings and limited resources, Montgomery County officials gathered at the Statehouse Wednesday to plead for school construction money.
The county executive, county council president, board of education president and a state senator appeared before the Board of Public Works to appeal the recommendations of the Interagency Committee on School Construction.
The committee recommended that Montgomery County be given $8.1 million of the $72.7 million it had requested. This is a 77 percent decrease from the $36 million the county was awarded last year.
But with the addition of 2,600 students in the past year, Montgomery County has experienced the largest increase in school- age population of any jurisdiction in the state, County Executive Douglas M. Duncan said.
“Without continued support from the state, many important projects — both new schools to address capacity needs and modernization of older schools to address aging infrastructure — will not be possible,” Duncan said.
The county has more than 60 schools which were built in the 1960s. The county has also experienced an influx of students who do not speak English. Both factors contribute to the county’s need for increased school funding, Duncan said.
Sen. Ida G. Ruben, D-Montgomery, concurred with Duncan’s testimony.
“Montgomery County will be needing schools faster than most jurisdictions because we are just exploding at the seams,” Ruben said.
Calling Gov. Parris N. Glendening, who chairs the Board of Public Works, the “education governor,” Ruben asked him to approve an additional $400,000 in planning funds to integrate Takoma Park schools into the Montgomery County school system. Takoma Park, currently split between Prince George’s and Montgomery counties, will become part of Montgomery County on July 1.
The Interagency Committee on School Construction oversees Maryland’s School Construction Program. Schools submit capital improvement programs by December 7 of each year.
The committee then meets with each school board before making recommendations to the Board of Public Works, which is made up of the governor, treasurer and comptroller. Local school boards can appeal the committee’s recommendations to the board, which has the final say before the recommendations are presented to the General Assembly.
But there is more at stake: Of the $138.4 million available for school construction statewide, $65.9 million was not appropriated. The schools will be notified in May of the amounts they were awarded. The Interagency Committee has recommended the following for Montgomery County: Construction * Northeast High School, $2 million * Montgomery Blair High School, $3 million * Rolling Terrace Elementary School, $1.4 million * Lucy Barnsley Elementary School, $ 904,000 Renovations * Garrett Park Elementary School, $84,000 * Rockville High School, $168,000 Technology in Maryland Schools Program * Neelsville Middle School, $50,000 * John T. Baker Middle School, $50,000 * Gaithersburg Middle School, $50,000 * Francis Scott Key Middle school, $50,000 * Montgomery Village Middle School, $50,000 * Benjamin Banneker Middle School, $50,000 * Parkland Middle School, $50,000 * Argyle Middle School, $50,000 Mobile Classrooms * Takoma Park Middle School, $92,000 Planning Projects * Montgomery Blair High School, $15,748 * Northeast Area High School, $6,645 -30-