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Harford school board plan to request $66 million from county for capital improvement projects

Harford County Public Schools will need nearly $100 million, including $66.4 million from the county, to fund its capital improvement projects.

During Monday night’s meeting, school officials again presented projects to the board, this time focusing on items for which they will seek funding from the county government.

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School officials graded these projects, that are not eligible for state funding, on the following criteria: immediate need for the improvement, its impact on capacity, the type of project (for example, is it essential for academics) and the availability of state funding.

The projects were ranked one to 36 and grouped within the levels of need. The top 10 items were considered “currently critical.”

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Project No. 1 was improvements in a special education facility at the John Archer School that would pull a little over $1 million from fiscal 2023 capital improvement budget. The last item in this category was to replace the district’s aging non-bus fleet for $1.5 million from the budget.

The six projects considered “potentially critical” include security measures, outdoor track reconditioning and major heating and air conditioning repairs.

The 13 “necessary” projects include improvements to make facilities compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, swimming pool renovations and equipment and furniture.

The seven “recommended projects” include playground equipment, fencing and locker replacement, .

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The total of these projects that must be funded on the county level is $30.4 million.

The board approved the staff’s request for projects needing state funds in September and those projects were submitted to the state in October. Those proposals include Bakerfield Elementary School roof and chiller replacements, a Harford Technical High School multi-systematic renovation and addressing schools with elevated lead testing.

Some of those projects are funded through grants and others through the capital budget. While the multi-systematic renovation costs a total of $46 million, for example, the county schools requested $10 million from the state and $10 million from the county to match its half.

The total of state funds requested are $29,719,235, and the contributions from local funding on those projects totaled $35,916,932. Then adding the $30,438,000 in locally funded proposals that were discussed Monday, the total of all the projects are $96,074,167.

Although the school system has its own priority list, school board member David Bauer asked if the county has the power to prioritize projects. Missy Valentino, facilities planner for the system, said they can.

“We provide them in our priority order according to our system and our needs and our beliefs, but the county does have the right to choose the items they will fund,” she said.

Cornell Brown, assistant superintendent of operations, said they would return to the board in December to approve the capital improvement project request that will be sent to the county in January.

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