During its first meeting since students returned to school, the Howard County Board of Education heard two proposals from Superintendent Renee Foose — the first, a new committee to develop a comprehensive policy on school air quality and environmental safety; the second, the superintendent's FY17 capital budget.
The charter for the new committee will be discussed in further detail during the next board of education meeting on Sept. 17, according to Foose. The proposal came after ongoing concerns about mold at Glenwood Middle School, which some parents say has caused their children health problems. After installation of a new HVAC system and professional cleaning, HCPSS reported that Glenwood is safe for students, but parents there are still on alert.
In her presentation of the superintendent's FY17 capital budget, HCPSS Executive Director of Budget and Finance Beverly Davis outlined costs for school construction and renovation, as well as systemic maintenance, that total $105 million. Davis estimated that $25 million of this budget would come from the state. This would leave the county responsible for the remaining $80 million.
Davis acknowledged that getting this funding this would be a challenge.
"We've never gotten more than $60 million from the county," she said. But she insisted that the budget is based on immediate need, predominantly the costs of projected enrollment growth in the county's schools.
Last year Foose requested $87.8 million for the FY16 capital budget. The budget that was approved in May totaled $67.5 million.
The next steps in the approval of the superintendent's FY17 capital budget are a public hearing and work session of the Board of Education on Sept. 17, followed by the Howard County Council's review later in the fall.