Frederick County Council Gives Middletown Campus Schools Funding For Modernization

The funds comes from leftover money from fiscal year 2022

Frederick, Md. (KM) – Funds have been set aside by the Frederick County Council for modernization of the three schools in the Middletown campus. The amount is $22-million from the county’s fiscal year 2022 fund balance, or leftover money. The total amount for possible renovations and upgrades to meet future space needs is estimated at $200-million.

Councilman Steve McKay voted against the motion. “I don’t object to the goal of incrementally funding a large project. I don’t,” he said. “My concern and my objection now is that it just seems premature to do it in this way.”

Also voting no was Councilman Phil Dacey. He also said he’s not questioning the need for the project. “I don’t see the benefit of putting money–cash aside–right now  for a project that we don’t know the cost, and we don’t know what it’s going to spent on, whether we’ll need it even,” he said.

Chief Administrative Officer Rick Harcum said this modernization covering Middletown Elementary, Middle and High Schools is expected to be an expensive project, and the county should begin putting aside money for it. “We’re looking at roughly $200-million dollars for these three schools or that magnitude. So this is about a 10% down payment on what that ultimate buildout cost is going to be,” he said.

Harcum also said the County will be adding money to that account each year.

Council President MC Keegan-Ayer said all three schools have deficiencies. “And because they’re all on that same campus, and they all share the driveways and everything else, they’re going to have major road improvements that have to done. And all the things that normally go into just one school is going to be complicated because it’s all three at the same time,” she said.

Currently, the Frederick County Public School System is conducting a feasibility study on how to modernize and meet capacity needs at those  three schools. That study is expected to be completed by the fall.

The vote on Tuesday by the County Council to provide $22-million for possible renovation at the three Middletown campus schools was a budget journal which also included other projects. One item was   $2.9-million for Valley Elementary School to advance it from design in fiscal year 2023 to construction in fiscal year 2024. Other items which were approved included $1.6-million for Chromebook replacements in elementary schools; $3.0-million for the Housing Initiatives Fund investment; and $3.4-million for Fleet Fund investment.

By Kevin McManus