ANNAPOLIS, MD – Gov. Martin O’Malley yesterday, joined by House Speaker Michael E. Busch, and surrounded by students, educators and other officials, announced that the O’Malley-Brown Administration will propose more than $370 million in school construction funding and upgrades for Maryland public schools in the FY2013 budget to support an estimated 11,650 jobs with the local dollars these funds will leverage. The Governor is proposing more than $350 million in capital funding for the Public School Construction Program (PSCP), the second highest single-year funding level in State history, bringing the Administration’s six-year school construction commitment to $1.94 billion and creating an estimated 2,400 direct construction jobs each year over the last six years (including FY2013).
Additionally, the Administration will include $15.3 million in the Qualified Zone Academy Bond Program (QZAB), under which the State sells bonds and allocates proceeds to public school systems for capital improvements at eligible public school buildings and $6.1 million in the Aging Schools Program.
“It was only a few short years ago, when the Kopp Commission rightfully declared that we had a ‘crisis in school construction in our State,'” said Governor O’Malley. “In December 2005, Anthony Brown and I came to what was then Germantown Elementary’s 43-year old building. We saw the temporary learning shacks, and began an honest dialogue with the people of our State about choices and priorities Today, we’re asking the General Assembly to invest $372 million in FY2013 to create 11,650 jobs and recapitalize Maryland’s future with new investment in school construction because these investments we make together are literally the building blocks of greater job creation and opportunity.”
The Governor made the announcement at Germantown Elementary School in Annapolis, where in December 2005, one day after announcing the official O’Malley-Brown ticket, he and Lt. Governor Brown joined by Speaker Busch declared their commitment to investing in school construction, and released a comprehensive plan to accept the recommendations of the Kopp Commission, which in 2004 provided an unprecedented statewide assessment of the condition of Maryland’s public schools as a “crisis in school construction.”
The Kopp Commission noted:
• Students in poor buildings perform less well than students in functional buildings.
• Most researchers found students in poor buildings scored between 5 to 10 percentile rank points lower than students in functional buildings, after controlling for socioeconomic status.
• The difference in scores for students in poor buildings can be as high as 17 percentile rank points.
In order to move children out of crowded classrooms, crumbling school buildings and portable trailers, and position Maryland as a global leader in education, the Kopp Commission recommended that the State adopt a $250 million annual minimum for public school construction in order to reach the $2 billion investment that Maryland schools required.
“There is no better time to increase support for school construction than now when there is such a need for more and better schools and for jobs in Maryland,” said Treasurer Nancy Kopp. “As the State’s Chief Investment Officer, I salute the Governor for taking advantage of this ‘perfect moment’ of low interest rates and lower costs of construction and materials and a real need for new jobs. I am delighted to join Governor O’Malley at the new Germantown Elementary School today – six years after the O’Malley-Brown team pledge, at this very spot, – to build on our shared vision of strong schools for every student.”
In 2010, during his campaign for re-election, Governor O’Malley stood once again at Germantown Elementary to declare the Administration’s commitment to school construction as a new school was being built to replace the old one. The Governor promised to secure $1 billion more funds for school construction.
Yesterday, the Governor stood at Germantown Elementary –now completely rebuilt as a brand new, modern school building—to announce yet another year of record investment for school construction in Maryland, continuing the Administration’s unwavering commitment to rebuilding classrooms and giving children the tools they need to build a better future. These record investments, with the help of the Maryland General Assembly, have enabled schools across Maryland to open the doors to facilities featuring state-of-the-art smart boards, technology labs, naturally-lit classrooms and green building features that provide a positive learning environment for children.
“Our focus this session is making strategic investments to stimulate private sector job creation,” said Speaker Busch. “Government spending on capital projects like school construction is one of the best investments we can make in private sector jobs – particularly in the construction industry, which is among the hardest hit in the State.”
“Great schools start with great teachers, but they also include better facilities that provide students with surroundings conducive to learning,” said Interim State Superintendent of Schools Bernard Sadusky. “We are grateful that the Governor and the General Assembly continue to keep education at the top of the State’s agenda. That investment will assure a strong Maryland for decades to come.”
“Our children are the great benefactors of the continued commitment by Governor O’Malley to school construction. In our rapidly changing technological world, we must continue to do what we can to ensure our young people remain on the cutting edge and that our teachers can utilize innovative approaches to help children excel,” said Anne Arundel County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Kevin Maxwell. “Just in the last few years, we have been able to change the trajectory of success for tens of thousands of students in our county alone by building or renovating dozens of buildings and implementing innovative programs that help teachers deliver instruction and support community activities.”
Maryland State Education Association President Clara Floyd added, “This investment in Maryland’s public schools is great news for our children and our economy. Building safe, modern schools provides essential jobs for Maryland’s economy today while creating cutting-edge environments for the 21st century teaching and learning that will prepare our students for the jobs of tomorrow.”
“It is clear from infrastructure investments like this that the O’Malley Brown Administration understands the impact the projects will have on jobs and our economy, particularly for the construction industry that has been one of the hardest hit during the recession,” said Executive Secretary/Treasurer of the Washington DC Building Trades Vance Ayres.
Since taking office, the O’Malley-Brown Administration has continued its commitment to quality public education, making strategic and record investments in K-12 education even while cutting a record $6.8 billion from the state budget over five years. For three years in a row, Maryland’s public schools have been certified as number-one in the nation by Education Week magazine. In August 2010, Maryland became one of 12 states and jurisdictions to receive a federal Race to the Top grant award. The State was highlighted in the 2011 Quality Counts report that examines states’ responses to the new economic realities for providing funding protections for K-12, not waiving funding protections, not loosening regulations on class size, or relaxing rules on time in school. For three years in a row, Maryland has also led the nation in the percentage of graduating seniors that had taken and passed an AP exam according to the College Board. For four years in a row, the Administration froze tuition at public colleges and universities, and has since held tuition increases to just three percent, making the dream of a college education more affordable for more families. In an unprecedented effort, Maryland is bringing together new players from business, government, and research communities to open doors for STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) careers for college graduates, and provide opportunities for high school and college students to gain practical STEM experience outside the classroom.
The FY2013 budget will continue the Administration’s commitment to job creation, rebuilding the state’s infrastructure, building state-of-the-art classrooms, and contributing to Maryland’s communities. This year’s capital budget alone will support approximately 22,000 direct jobs for Marylanders. The FY2013 budget will be the sixth budget the Governor has submitted to the General Assembly that complies with Spending Affordability guidelines. By choosing to strategically reform and reduce the size of state government and make tough decisions, Maryland remains one of only eight states to maintain a Triple A Bond Rating, a seal of fiscal responsibility certified by all three major rating agencies that allows the State to maximize the impact of its capital budget.