Work Group Comes Up With Recommendations On School Construction Savings

It was released on Thurs. during County Executive Gardner’s public information briefing.

Frederick, Md (KM). More than 40 recommendations are contained in a report released by the Frederick County School Construction Work Group. County Executive Jan Gardner discussed that report during her public information briefing on Thursday. “And they include potential changes to legislation, to public policy, to procurement processes and even some alternative construction methods that will assist our local school system and the elected officials to achieve this ambitious goal of saving 8% to 10%,” she said.

The Work Group was formed last year by the County Executive.

Some of the recommendations would require legislation from the Maryland General Assembly. Gardner says one calls for a three-year delay in changes that could affect school construction costs. “Second recommendation is the state to develop a reserve fund for school construction to assist counties by cost sharing when costs go up,” Gardner says.

Another recommendation calls for the state to establish and maintain a revolving loan fund to provide additional state funding for schools throughout the state.

Gardner says there’s also a recommendation that design work on new schools  start early. “The beginning often defines the end. It’s really key to defining how the project moves forward. And it’s the best time to value engineer or save money on the project,” she says.

There’s also a recommendation to delegate some plan review functions from the state  to local school systems.

A controversial recommendation would let local school systems bid and construct schools without the prevailing wage requirement if local funding is more than 50% of the project’s costs. The Work Group says that would reduce construction costs by 11% to 14%.

Other recommendations deal with school site and storm water management, the school site acquisition process, school construction technologies and potential cost savings, a cooperative review process, delivery methods and fees.

“Local, state and federal mandates, you may note, we did spend a lot of time on because there’s a lot of work that can be done there to save money as I think the entire committee recognized,” said Mike Marshner, the chair of the Work Group. “And so we tried to identify state mandates that affect school construction costs, and how changes in laws and regulations could be done to reduce the impact of these regulations.”

He also said these recommendations could even exceed projected savings on school construction. “This eight to ten-percent is an estimate. It could be greater, or it could be less. But we think with some of the other recommendations, it could be more,” Marshner said.

County Executive Gardner said this report will be presented to the Board of Education, which will make a lot of decisions regarding changes in policies and procedures for building schools.

“Frederick County is taking the lead to identity ways to save money on school construction, and I think that’s a real positive for us,” she says.


By Kevin McManus