School Funding Likely To Drop

January 02, 1991|By Samuel Goldreich | Samuel Goldreich,Staff writer

Five minor county school renovation projects cleared the first hurdle last week to almost $1 million in state aid.

The state also appears ready to embrace proposed renovations to Parole Elementary, if not yet to pay for them.

However, Anne Arundel faces a 50 percent drop in its share of money from the state's Board of Public Works because it has no major new projects ready for construction.

Financing for capital projects ranging from installation of an elevator to air conditioning work was recommended in a staff report to the state's Interagency Committee on School Construction (IAC).

If the recommendations stand and are approved by the Board of Public Works, the county will see its state aid drop from $1.97 million this year to $965,000 when fiscal year 1992 begins July 1.

"Anne Arundel County didn't have any major construction projects that were ready for funding this year," IAC Executive Director Yale Stenzler said Monday.

The county has seen a precipitous decline in Board of Public Works support since 1988, the last year that the state covered 100 percent of school construction costs.

State aid dropped from $5.36 million in 1988 to $4.79 million the following year and to $3.94 million last year as the last of "grandfathered" money was distributed, Stenzler said.

The county won more than $16 million from the IAC during that period, out of a total of $288 million allocated statewide.

As the state struggles with its deficit, the Board of Public Works trimmed $7 million from its planned $60 million bond sale, further limiting money available to the county.

"The same has happened to all the counties," county school board President Nancy Gist said.

Local governments are now required to put up 45 percent of school construction costs.

The five 1992 renovation projects supported by the IAC staff report and the proposed state contribution are:

* Old Mill Middle and High schools -- installation of an air conditioning chiller ($300,000).

* Arundel Junior High School -- roof replacement ($233,000).

* Belvedere Elementary School -- installation of a fire protection system ($174,000).

* Magothy and Severn River middle schools -- installation of an air conditioning chiller ($150,000).

* Northeast High School -- installation of an elevator to improve access for handicapped students ($108,000).

The county school board had a list of 10 larger-ticket projects, but they were not far enough advanced in the planning process to be eligible for state money in the coming year, Stenzler said.

The IAC staff did come out in support of a $1.1 million renovation project for Parole Elementary. Planning money would likely be recommended next year, Stenzler said.

When County Executive Robert R. Neall met last month with Anne Arundel's General Assembly delegation, he expressed disappointment that the school board couldn't take advantage of state financing.

"I don't see that as a negative," Stenzler said, explaining that the county cannot use money it has not planned for.

The school board had requested $79.5 million in the state's five-year capital improvement plan. Included in that amount is $4.3 million for improvements at Lindale Junior High School, which will become the permanent home of North County High.

The state has given assurances of support for the project, but no money will be committed this year because the county does not have a construction plan prepared, Stenzler said.

North County High won final approval from the county only this summer after a year long study of other alternatives to combining Brooklyn Park and Andover high schools.

But the school board has no complaints about the timing, Gist said, because the study demonstrated that consolidation of the two high schools at Lindale Junior High is the best solution to the problem of achieving program equity in North County.

"If you have the money, then use it," she said. "But if you can't use it, then you don't just throw it away."

The school board will have a chance to appeal for more money at an IA Chearing Jan. 22. More hearings will be conducted.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.