Broadneck likely to be only school project submitted to state

September 02, 1994|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Sun Staff Writer

Broadneck High School may be the only Anne Arundel County school construction project submitted for state approval in the next fiscal year, and so far no others have been planned for submission in 1997.

And that's just one of the problems facing school planners, board members learned at a workshop last night on school construction plans and budget.

"Last year, the board got a decent percent of the county budget," said Walter Chitwood, former chief administrative officer for County Executive Robert R. Neall and a newly %J appointed assistant school superintendent.

"Next year's going to be leaner, and there are some fundamental decisions that need to be made," Mr. Chitwood said. "Everyone has to understand there's not an unlimited pot."

County financial documents show the school board is scheduled to receive about $184.5 million from the county for construction projects between fiscal 1996 and fiscal 2000.

For the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, 1995, the school board received $35.4 million for construction from the county.

Next year, however, that figure is expected to drop to about $17.3 million. In the 1997 and 1998 fiscal years, that amount will average out to about $40 million annually.

"With the tax cap, we're at a disadvantage," Mr. Chitwood said. ** "The state bases its percentage of school funding on a wealth-based formula, but we don't have access to the full wealth base."

The tax limit passed by voters in November 1992 limits the growth in total property tax revenue to 4.5 percent or the regional rate of inflation in January of each year, whichever is lower.

The problem as to which school construction projects should be submitted for state review after Broadneck High School is easier to resolve, said Ralph Luther, acting assistant superintendent for support services.

"Our suggested strategy is to have three schools in planning annually," he said.

The scheduling problem arises from the fact that the school board receives money from the county to begin planning any school on July 1, the beginning of the fiscal year. Two months later, on Sept. 1, the state committee that oversees school construction wants to view schematic documents.

"It's virtually impossible to receive funding July 1 and get the schematics done by Sept. 1," Mr. Luther said. "By doing the schematics early, we can ask for planning and construction money in the same year, and we can deliver design documents by the Nov. 1 state deadline."

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