Harford County’'s Board of Education approved an amended $57.8 million capital budget request for fiscal year 2024 during its meeting Monday.
“We’re here in response to an estimated increase in our costs of construction and various policies, decisions that were made at the state level that are resulting in us making an amendment,” Assistant Superintendent of Operations Cornell Brown said.
The $57.8 million budget request is $1.1 million more than the initial budget for the fiscal year 2024 approved by the board in the fall of 2022, which was $56.7 million. Of the $57.8 million budget request, the school system is seeking $36.5 million from the county and $21.3 million from the state.
The local request decreased from the initial $36.6 million to $36.5 million, a $112,788 change. However, the state request increased by $1.2 million, raising the initial amount from $20 million to about $21.3 million.
“When we put together our initial capital improvement program budget, we had heard some information from the state that they may increase the budget,” said Harford County Public Schools Facility Planner Missy Valentino. “We did not know what that number looked like, but we did go in with a higher number than we do. With this change we will not need to make adjustments to our CIP.”
In January, Gov. Wes Moore released his preliminary FY24 budget. He invested $8.8 billion in K-12 education for Maryland public schools, with about $485 million statewide allocated to the state construction funding.
“Typically we anticipate $280 million statewide in state construction funding,” Valentino said, “with his release budget that increased to $485 million which is $200 million more. What that really means for us is a difference between $7 to $11 million in additional funding statewide.”
The state might receive an additional $100 million toward school construction if a pending project is not approved, Valentino said.
The state also recalculated the Enrollment Growth and Relocatable Classroom program. School districts with an enrollment growth exceeding 150% of the statewide average or local educational agencies that have more than 300 relocatable classrooms are eligible for the program.
The Morning Sun
Harford County Public Schools does not have 300 relocatable classrooms, but the school system does fall under the category of enrollment growth exceeding 150% of the statewide average, Valentino said.
“This is the first time HCPS has ever been eligible for this program,” she said. “That added an additional $2.2 million to our overall anticipated budget.”
The school system is seeking $21.4 million for a limited renovation at Harford Technical High School, $2.6 million for a roof replacement at Havre de Grace Elementary School, $17 million for a HVAC systemic renovation at Aberdeen Middle School, $16 million for a new building for Harford Academy at Campus Hillsand an additional $482,917 for the Homestead/Wakefield Elementary School Replacement project not covered by the Built to Learn funding.
“We want to maximize state funding to the best extent possible,” Valentino said.
Harford County’s Board of Education unanimously approved the budget request.
In addition to its approval, the school system must submit its intended amendments of state capital improvement program request by March 17, and is required to provide a letter of the board’s approval of the amended budget and a letter of support from County Executive Bob Cassilly by April 13.
The capital improvement program budget is available at hcps.org.