School District Anticipates State Aid For Construction

September 11, 1991|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff writer

Carroll educators remain optimistic about receiving state dollars for the renovation of Mechanics-ville Elementary, despite the governor's warnings about eliminating school construction money.

Carroll, like other school districts, has been advised by a school constructionoversight agency to proceed with its capital improvement program requests for fiscal 1993, which begins July 1.

Vernon F. Smith Jr., Carroll's director of school support services, said the Interagency Committee for Public School Construction has advised the district to include $1.8 million for the Mechanicsville project in its capital requests for the next fiscal year.

The Mechanicsville renovation is among the $38 million in school projects thathave received IAC planning recognition -- acknowledgment that a project is needed -- and is now in line for construction dollars.

"Basically, what the (IAC) is saying is that we'll work through the requests if funds are available," Smith said.

Gov. William Donald Schaefer has informed the IAC that because of projected state deficits -- as high as $700 million in 1993 -- money for school construction and other projects may not be available for the next fiscal year.

However, Delegate Richard N. Dixon, D-Carroll, said the capital budget isfinanced largely by bond bills, passed by the legislature.

"It's something we would initiate," Dixon said. "I've never been aware of abond bill being vetoed by the governor. Most bills in the past represented various counties, and it's difficult for something like that not to pass."

"The timing couldn't be worse," Superintendent R. Edward Shilling said. "It puts Mechanicsville at risk for us. We may have to go back to local fiscal authorities to move that forward."

Steven D. Powell, county management and budget director, told the commissioners Monday that eliminating state dollars for construction wouldhave a "major impact," creating a much heavier debt burden for the county.

He called the warning political "posturing" and said he expected the state legislature to rebuff the governor's threat.

But Ray Feldman, the governor's assistant press secretary, dismissed charges of politics and said the warning is a realistic assessment of where the state can afford to spend dollars in the next couple of years.

"The governor is trying to find ways to balance deficits without hurting people," Feldman said.

Despite optimism for the Mechanicsville project, Smith said said it is unlikely state reimbursement dollars would be available for completed projects like Piney Ridge Elementary.

Carroll is seeking reimbursement of $2.5 million toward the $5.4 million cost.

The district also is seeking state planning recognition for the New Windsor Middle School replacement ($7.1 million),an Oklahoma Road Middle School ($10.6 million) and other renovation projects, including one under way at Sandymount Elementary ($4.8 million).

Through fiscal 1998, the capital budget calls for $143.5 million in school construction.

"I expect we will get planning recognition for New Windsor Middle School this coming year," Smith said. "Isuspect we have a chance of getting planning recognition for the Oklahoma Road and Sandymount projects."

State planning recognition does not guarantee money. However, it does put projects in line for future construction dollars.

Staff writer Adam Sachs contributed to this story.

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