Superintendent Releases Recommended Capital Budget Amendments

October 29, 2008
Superintendent Jerry D. Weast has recommended that six elementary school additions be expanded to accommodate increased enrollment, but that these projects be delayed for six months to one year to allow the necessary time for planning and design changes. The modifications to the elementary school additions; new portable classrooms for schools over capacity; and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system replacements are among projects slated for funding adjustments in the superintendent’s recommended Fiscal Year 2010 capital budget.

These changes for the FY10 capital budget are part of the superintendent’s recommended amendments to the FY 2009-2014 Capital Improvements Program. The proposal now goes to the Board of Education for its consideration, before the Board sends its capital budget and amendments to the six-year CIP to the county executive and County Council in December. This is the second year of the county’s biennial CIP process, so only minor amendments are included in the proposal.

The County Council-adopted FY 2009 Capital Budget and FY 2009-2014 totaled $1.29 billion for the six-year period and included an FY 2009 expenditure of $236.5 million. The superintendent’s recommendation for amending the FY 2009-2014 CIP includes only an additional $15.6 million, or a 1.2 percent increase, over the adopted CIP. The FY 2010 capital budget would actually be reduced by $3.5 million, as a result of shifts in the schedules for the six elementary school addition projects.

“The requested increase (in the six-year CIP) is extraordinarily small compared to the many needs we have for our schools,” said Dr. Weast. “However, in this economic environment, I believe that it is imperative that we trim expenditures as much as possible. We will continue to monitor economic conditions and hope that in future years, we will be able to resume a more robust building program.”

Due to an unanticipated surge in enrollment growth for Montgomery County Public Schools, six elementary school addition projects in the capital budget would require more classrooms than previously planned. Four of the projects—Brookhaven, Fairland, Jackson Road, and Rock View elementary schools—would be delayed by one year under Superintendent Weast’s recommendation, to allow time for additional planning and design. Two other elementary school additions—Harmony Hills and Montgomery Knolls—would be delayed by six months.

In addition to the elementary school addition projects, which together would account for approximately $9.6 million, funding for other projects in the amended CIP $4.4 million for the HVAC replacement systems; $1 million for portable classrooms to address space deficits and enrollment growth; and $500,000 for water quality compliance projects.

MCPS 2008-09 student enrollment, which significantly exceeded projections this year and has eclipsed 139,000, is expected to surpass 140,000 by next year and to continue to increase in following years.

The superintendent’s FY 2010 capital budget and CIP amendments also include the following boundary recommendations:

• Creation of a new service area for the new Clarksburg Elementary School #8. This school is needed to relieve overutilization at Cedar Grove, Clarksburg, and Little Bennett elementary schools.

• Boundary changes for Bells Mill, Potomac and Seven Locks elementary schools. These changes are needed to address overutilization at Potomac Elementary School. Capacity is being added as part of the Bells Mill and Seven Locks elementary school modernizations.

The Board of Education is scheduled to hold a work session on November 6, to discuss CIP and boundary recommendations. Public hearings on the Superintendent’s Recommended FY 2010 Capital Budget and Amendments to the FY 2009-2014 CIP are scheduled for November 12 and 13. The Board will take final action on these items on November 20. The County Council will schedule a work/action session in late November to discuss the portion of the CIP request that relates to state funding.

The County Executive will issue his recommended FY09-14 CIP amendments for all county agencies by mid-January, when he will send it to the County Council. The Council will hold a hearing in early February and will conduct work sessions in March and April, before adopting an approved FY 2010 Capital Budget and Amendments to the FY 2009-2014 CIP by the end of May.

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