HB0365/SB0110 School Construction – Local Cost-Share – Alterations

A customized email to Chairman Barnes, Chairman Guzzone, and the members of the Appropriations and Budget and Taxation Committees will be generated from your response.

 

Fill out the form here and learn more below.

Please include any personal stories about the building in the comments field at the bottom of the form (“The school looks the same as when I went there in 1980, which was FORTY YEARS AGO PEOPLE” or “My daughter’s teacher had to spend half of band class mopping up the floor because of a leak in the ceiling” or “I have a classroom that is basically a cinderblock box, how inspiring!”). Specific details are compelling!

HB0365/SB0110 Letter of Support
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About the bill:

HB 0365/SB0110: Adding an adjustment for the local cost-share for school construction projections for certain counties under certain circumstances.

This bill creates a new adjustment to the local and State cost share of school construction projects that meet specified criteria. To be eligible for the adjustment (1) the percentage of students in the county eligible for free or reduced-price meals (FRPM) must be greater than the statewide average; (2) all schools in the county must participate in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision (CEP); (3) the State and local cost share must be 50% State and 50% local; and (4) the eligible project must be a school that is the only elementary, middle, or high school in the county. Counties with eligible projects must have the local cost share for that project reduced to equal the average cost share of counties in which all schools participate in CEP. The State cost share must be adjusted upward proportionally to cover the difference in funding.

The letter that will be sent to all committee members:

Dear Chairman Barnes, Chairman Guzzone, and Members of the Appropriations and Budget and Taxation Committees:

I am writing today to express my strong support of bill HB 0365/SB0110 – sponsored by Delegates Jacobs, Ghrist, and Arentz, and Senator Hershey. This bill requests that an adjustment is made for the local cost-share for school construction projections under certain circumstances.

Kent County Middle School serves all of Kent County with a high population of students who qualify for free or reduced price meals. The current state cost share for public school construction for Kent County is designated as 50%, leaving our small county of 22,000 to cover about $45 million to build a new school. This is about 3/4 of Kent County’s entire yearly budget. Unfortunately, we know this project literally cannot happen without an increase in support from the state.

In past years, the state has granted counties in similar situations a much higher percentage of costs. Kent County has 86% of students qualifying for CEP. Caroline County, with 85% CEP, was granted 94% from the state for eligible costs. Wicomico, with 77% CEP, was granted 98% from the state.

Kent County Middle School was built 1946. That was 78 years ago, the year World War II ended, the same year the world’s first general-service computer was introduced to the world.

We cannot expect our children to thrive when they are trying to learn in a building that is almost 80 years old and is crumbling around them. There are leaks in the roof, rooms without windows, and no spaces designed to accommodate and support the pedagogical advancements of the past 80 years. It looks and feels like a bunker. How can our students learn to prepare for the future when their school is a relic of the past?

Our kids and teachers need a new building—one that reflects the fact that we are living in the 21st century. Our community needs this school. But we do not have the funds to pay for it because our county is small and our budgets are as well. It is an injustice of our forward-thinking state to leave Kent County students behind and to continue to forfeit their futures because our county is unable to fund a new school building. Kids deserve a healthy, safe and welcoming school building that inspires learning, no matter where they’re from.

Please advocate for our often overlooked and undervalued students by voting favorably on HB0365/SB0110 to give them the best environment for success.

Thank you for your consideration and interest in the welfare of Kent County’s students.

Some background:

Kent County Middle School is crumbling. Built in 1945, it is an old, outdated building with a leaky roof, little ventilation, rooms without windows, and yes, asbestos tiles. The Board of Ed has spent significant time and energy on a plan to rebuild KCMS. This plan has been approved, but is highly unlikely to get enough funding from the county to complete, even though the county and the town of Chestertown have voiced their support for the construction.
The state has had a history of helping fund school construction in other counties:
  • Caroline County, with 85% low-income students, had 94% of costs covered by the state.
  • Wicomico County, with 77% low-income students, had 98% of costs covered by the state.
  • Washington County, with 75% low-income students, had 78% covered by the state.
We have 86% low-income students and are only getting 50% covered by the state under the current law.
Our delegates have lobbied to get increased funding for this project for Kent County but the state WILL NOT PASS the bill if they do not see significant support from the community…
…which means we will have to continue to make do with an ancient building that is only getting worse.
A new middle school is not just good for Kent County families, it is also good for Chestertown. Nothing says “we don’t care about families” louder than decaying buildings that look like prisons. While a new middle school building might not convince folks to move to Chestertown, an old dumpy building is definitely a deterrent. 
We can’t afford to wait another generation for a new opportunity to arise (not to mention the wasted time for a new feasibility study etc).