Historical Background

In 1970, Governor Marvin Mandel and the presiding officers of both houses of the Maryland State Legislature, Senator William S. James and Delegate Thomas Hunter Lowe, appointed a commission to study the need to revise the State aid foundation program for education and the possibility of full State funding of all operating costs. The Commission To Study the State's Role in Financing Public Education held its first meeting in May of 1970, chaired by then State Senator Harry R. Hughes.

Senator Hughes, during the early deliberations of the Commission, suggested the desirability of having the State fully fund school construction costs. On February 26, 1971, the Hughes Commission report made the following three recommendations:

  • that the State reimburse the subdivisions for the full approved cost of all construction of pulic elementary and scondary schools for which contracts were let after July 1, 1971
  • that the State reimburse the subdivisions the full cost of debt service for direct payments made or obligations incurred on contracts signed between February 1, 1971 and June 30, 1971
  • that the State reimburse the subdivisions for debt service requirements for obligations outstanding as of June 30, 1967

The proposals were to (a) provide local property tax relief; (b) relieve the subdivisions of the high costs of school construction; (c) address the considerable backlog of new construction, renovation, and replacement of schools; (d) even out the financial impact through the State assumption of these costs; and (e) equalize educational facilities and opportunities throughout the State.

Legislation was then introduced to establish the State School Construction Program and a bond authorization for Fiscal Year 1972 for $150 million. The statute establishing the Public School Construction Program authorized the State Board of Public Works (the Governor, the State Comptroller, and the State Treasurer) to determine the organization, structure, rules, regulations, and administrative procedures. The Board of Public Works, in the Rules, Regulations, and Procedures for the Administration of the School Construction Program (R,R,&P) adopted on June 29, 1971 created the Interagency Committee on School Construction. The R,R,&P have been revised several times since first being adopted, the latest revisions were approved October 6, 1993.

Organization

The Interagency Committee has five members: the State Superintendent of Schools who chairs the Committee, the Secretary of the Department of General Services (DGS), the Secretary of the Maryland Department of Planning (MDP) and two members of the public, appointed by the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate (the current members and their contact information can be found here). Each member of the Committee has an appointed designee and staff members who work with the Interagency Committee on School Construction. There is also a staff of employees of the Board of Public Works who assumes the responsibilities for the coordination and administration of the program as well as the fiscal and audit functions. The Committee's staff members are highly qualified, extremely capable and have expertise in their respective fields. This enables them, individually and collectively, to provide technical assistance to the local school districts and their project architects and consultants.

Operational Procedures

Each fall, the 24 school systems in the State submit an annual and five-year Capital Improvement Program which is approved by the local government fiscal authorities. After review and discussion with representatives of the school districts, the staff recommends action to the Interagency Committee on each project in the annual Capital Improvement Program request. In December, the Committee holds a special hearing to allow the school districts to appeal the staff recommendations. The Committee, after reviewing the staff recommendations and the information presented at the hearing, forwards its recommendations to the Board of Public Works. The Board of Public Works holds a public hearing in January for school districts to appeal the recommendations of the Interagency Committee. The Capital Improvement Program, as recommended by the Committee, is generally approved by the Board of Public Works in January. The Board generally reconvenes in April to respond to the appeals after the legislature has approved the capital budget and after the level of State funding for the following fiscal year has been established.

The Public School Construction Program obtains its funding through annual appropriations submitted in the Governor's budget and approved by the Maryland General Assembly. Since 1971, the State has provided over $2.2 billion for public school construction projects. With the exception of $122 million (5.55%) that was provided from the State's operating budget ("pay-go" funds), the State funds for this program have come from the sale of State general obligation bonds.

Rules, Regulations, and Procedures

The Public School Construction Program operates under the Rules, Regulations, and Procedures for the Administration of the School Construction Program (R,R,&P) and the Public School Construction Program Administrative Procedures Guide (APG). Both of these documents were developed and revised in consultation with representatives from the boards of education and the local government bodies.

The R,R,&P have been amended several times since first adopted in 1971 in response to changing requirements, interpretations, policies, initiatives, economic conditions, and infrastructure needs. During these times, the objectives, operation, State agency functions, and general support to local education agencies has not been altered.

The latest revision to the Public School Construction Program Administrative Procedures Guide was distributed in September 1994. In addition to general information about the Public School Construction Program, the guide includes information, requirements, and procedures for the following: educational facility master plans, the capital improvement program, architectural selection, site selection, the planning process, educational specifications, schematic designs, design development documents, life cycle cost and energy conservation studies, construction documents, contract awards, financial disbursements and audits, the disposition of school sites and/or buildings, the use and movement of State-owned relocatable classrooms, and the maintenance of public school buildings.

The Rules, Regulations, and Procedures and the Administrative Procedures Guide currently in effect implemented most of the thirty-nine (39) recommendations of a gubernatorial task force completed in July 1993. The remaining recommendations are currently under study.