- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Charles County school officials are requesting an additional $6 million from state officials on top of what a state agency already has recommended for construction funding.
In total, the school system is asking the state for $14.8 million. It’s asking for $8.2 million for St. Charles High School, and the remaining $6.2 million is for energy-efficiency initiatives at 28 schools.
The state recently recommended $6.6 million for the high school and funding for 15 schools’ energy projects.
School officials spoke before the Board of Public Works earlier this month to appeal for state construction funding in what is known as the “begathon.”
Charles County Board of Education Chairwoman Roberta S. Wise told the BPW that the school system is requesting the balance of its original request of $8.2 million, $1.9 million for the high school and additional money for energy efficiency projects.
“By limiting our capital improvement plan request, we hope to reduce the financial burden our county government faces to forward-fund its share while awaiting state reimbursement over the next two to three years,” she said.
Wise spoke first about St. Charles High School, reminding the board that the system’s seventh high school, set to open on Piney Church Road in 2014, has been delayed for several years due to funding issues.
The four-story building, she said, has a steel frame already in place, and the foundation is in place for the school’s digital classroom.
“It is a welcome sight for a board that has worked since 2007 to secure funding and start building a school that was first scheduled to open in 2011,” she said.
The second request was for $4.4 million toward 22 energy-efficient lighting projects, bringing the total requested to 37.
The projects are part of the state’s Energy Efficiency Initiative.
Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) allocated $25 million in fiscal 2013 for the initiative, aimed at reducing the energy consumption of Maryland public schools.
Wise said the initiative is helping the school system retrofit lighting in schools with more energy-efficient bulbs and fixtures. Wise said the school system has seen a quick return on cost to install the lights and “instant relief” on electric bills.
She said savings on utility costs offset installation costs within one year.
Wise said that while the state has recommended funding for 15 projects, the school system is requesting $4.4 million to complete projects in 22 additional schools and centers. There are 35 schools and four centers in the system.
Charles Wineland, assistant superintendent for supporting services for county schools, said there is no telling exactly what will come from the meeting with the BPW, but he was confident.
“It doesn’t hurt that the governor likes what is going on in the school system,” he said.
Wineland said he got that impression when O’Malley mentioned the high school project and digital classroom during the meeting.
He said that all in all, “it was really a good day for Charles County.”