Montgomery County Taxpayers League

The Voice of Taxpayers of Montgomery County, Maryland

“Is Maryland building ‘Cadillacs or Buicks’ for its new public schools?”

From the Maryland Reporter website of July 7, 2016:

“In a heated discussion with the head of the [state] school construction program, Gov. Larry Hogan and Comptroller Peter Franchot aired serious concerns about the state’s spending on public school projects at Wednesday’s Board of Public Works meeting.  “We can’t just keep shoveling more and more money without accountability,” Hogan said.  “The taxpayers are getting pretty frustrated with the results.”

Comment (1)

  1. Ed Amatetti

    I don’t know why Mr. Lever resigned from the Interagency Committee on School Construction to protest efforts to build more schools for less money – you would think that would be a good thing.

    It is certainly clear that we can do much better in this area. The cost for a new high school or expansion of an existing school in Maryland has recently ranged from about $245 per square foot to over $300. Compare this to Texas public schools, where the average is about $155 per square foot. The City of Houston has it down to $135. The fast-growing Cy-Fair District, a mostly white, upper middle class suburb of Houston is building schools at $107 per square foot. In other words, Texas is able to build more than two schools for the cost of one school in Maryland. North Carolina chimes in at $143 per square foot, while in neighboring Virginia it is $217. According to School Planning and Management Magazine, the nationwide average is a little over $200 per square foot.

    Many steps can be taken can be done to reduce school construction costs. These include moving to a “design build” method of procurement, looking at Maryland’s “prevailing wage” laws which can add 10% to overall costs, and to the State’s counterproductive “siting” laws on the books, that often prevent counties from finding the most cost-effective sites. Maryland jurisdictions sit between a “rock” (growing enrollment, over-capacity, and cost inflation) and a “hard place” (less funding for construction statewide). I would think Mr. Lever would want to participate in finding solutions instead of pouting and going home.

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