Committee promises $1.1 million for school construction

December 02, 1993|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Staff Writer

The state committee that oversees school construction has promised Anne Arundel County $1.1 million in the next fiscal year to help pay for a new elementary school in Deale and a new roof at Quarterfield Elementary, a county school administrator said yesterday.

The Maryland Interagency Committee (IAC) also gave the county permission to begin planning two new elementary schools in the next fiscal year: Park in Brooklyn Park and South Shore in Crownsville.

"That's pretty good," said Michael K. Raible, director of planning and construction for the county public school system. "But this is only our first time at the plate."

The county had sought a total of $7.8 million from the state to help pay for three construction projects: $5.3 million for a new Meade Area Middle School; $1.8 million for a new Park Elementary; and $554,000 toward Deale Elementary.

Although the Meade Area Middle and Park Elementary projects weren't approved, Mr. Raible said it's too soon to give up hope.

"Don't count anything out yet," he said. "There's still going to be an appeal hearing before the IAC, then there's a chance to appeal directly to the Board of Public Works."

The Board of Public Works -- Gov. William Donald Schaefer, Treasurer Lucille Maurer and Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein -- has the final say on all school construction projects. But its decisions are based upon the IAC's recommendations.

In Maryland, each of the 24 subdivisions pays planning costs for new schools, but splits construction costs with the state -- a percentage based on a jurisdiction's income.

Money to pay the state's share of construction costs is distributed annually by the Interagency Committee, which has about $70 million to divide among the subdivisions in the fiscal year beginning July 1, 1994. The committee has promised more than 60 percent of that amount, and has about $29.5 million yet to disburse.

In addition, a school system must have a guarantee that the county will be able to pay its share of construction costs as soon as the state money is ready.

Most subdivisions wait to begin building schools until they have the IAC's planning approval, a near-guarantee that construction money will be granted the following year.

But some subdivisions, including Anne Arundel County, go ahead and begin planning -- and sometimes construct -- new schools without the IAC's blessing if they feel enrollments warrant the new buildings.

For example, the Deale Elementary project was paid for by the county pending IAC approval, the county budget shows.

"The IAC doesn't have enough money to cover each project, the committee has to set priorities, and there's only so much money to go around," Mr. Raible said. "We're not going to start whining yet so early in the process."

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