Harford Schools Superintendent Robert Tomback is expected to recommend that both Havre de Grace High School and Youth’s Benefit Elementary School be replaced with modern facilities, and that some funding for the multi-year projects be included in the schools’ capital funding request for next year.
Tomback’s recommendation to the Harford County Board of Education is included in the published agenda for the Sept. 10 board business meeting. The recommendation also includes a new $18 million HVAC project for Fallston High School, bringing the school system’s total capital budget request to nearly $60 million for the fiscal year 2014.
If approved by the school board, the move affecting Havre de Grace High and Youth’s Benefit Elementary would reverse an earlier decision by the board to delay requests to fund replacement schools pending the outcome of an independent analysis of all school facilities. Planned to help prioritize requests for capital projects, results from the analysis are not expected for at least a year and a half.
Despite the pending analysis, State Sen. Barry Glassman urged school board members at an August public hearing to include a major project in their yearly funding request to the state. To do otherwise, Glassman said, would put Harford County at a disadvantage when state funding for such projects becomes available. Major capital projects are typically paid for by a combination of state and county funds. The budget expected to be proposed by Tomback on Monday evening requests $6,594,048 in state funding this year for Youth’s Benefit; funding for Havre de Grace in the amount of $3,700,000 is requested at the county level only.
Replacing Youth’s Benefit has long been a school system priority, and it was among those put on hold pending the countywide analysis. Parents from Fallston have also been advocating for the new school, which has been designed and is largely ready for construction funding.
By contrast, replacing Havre de Grace High School is not a priority previously identified by school officials. The project initiated with Harford County Executive David Craig who has argued that the lack of a new school in his native city creates an inequity for students and taxpayers there. Craig has also reminded school board members of his role in school funding and pointed to new schools that have been built elsewhere in the county with his full support. Joining Craig in his advocacy have been his son, Havre de Grace City Council President Randy Craig, along with other Havre de Grace officials and residents.
Craig has announced plans to include the Havre de Grace and Youth’s Benefit projects in his fiscal year 2014 budget, which must be recommended to the Harford County Council for final approval. Last year, the county council approved a long term budget plan proposed by Craig to fund Youth’s Benefit beginning in fiscal year 2014, but cut back on his budget plans for Havre de Grace High, citing fiscal constraints and the pending analysis, and Craig’s disregard for other school board priorities.
At the board business meeting planned for September 10th, school board members will receive a presentation on the entire $60 million capital budget proposed for the fiscal year 2014, with board action expected on September 24th. In order to be considered for state funding, the capital budget must be submitted to the state each year by Oct. 15.
Other agenda items for the Sept. 10 school board meeting include a financial report for the fiscal year that ended on June 30. According to the published report by school officials, HCPS had expended slightly more than 98 percent of budgeted revenue by the year-end and accumulated an overall fund balance of approximately $16 million. Of that amount, $10 million is assigned in the current budget, according to the report, leaving $6 million currently unassigned. The financial report also warns of a future potential rate increase to HCPS for health care costs, depending on the actual loss ratio for the remainder of the calendar year.
On the Sept. 10 consent agenda, school board members will be asked to approve a school-sponsored project to replace the scoreboard at Aberdeen High School. Funds for the $45,000 purchase and installation of an electronic scoreboard have been raised by the school and through corporate sponsorships.
Also up for approval is a $720,325 contract award to Burdette, Koehler, Murphy & Associates to provide professional design services for systemic HVAC renovations at Magnolia Middle School. The contract covers an initial phase of what is expected to be a two-year project. North Harford Elementary School is also slated for a two-year HVAC upgrade, and board approval will be requested for a $319,990 contract award for professional design services to Gipe Associates. Both HVAC contract awards are being recommended by Superintendent Tomback based on bid evaluations made by a selection committee for the respective projects. Evaluations were based on bidders’ qualifications, experience, workload, and references, according to a published report.
Also on the consent agenda, John Santora, CPA, will be appointed by board members to the Audit Committee for a term ending on June 30, 2015. The committee provides financial oversight for the school board. Mr. Santora is currently the head of finance for the Baltimore County Public Library.
As always, the meeting will conclude with a report from Superintendent Tomback.
The Sept 10 school board meeting is set to begin at 6:30 p.m. in the boardroom at the A.A. Roberty Building in Bel Air. The public comment period is scheduled for 6:35 p.m.
Below is the published meeting agenda. Please note that published agendas are subject to change.
Monday, September 10, 2012
Board Business Meeting – 6:30 PM – Board Room
*Times are approximate
6:30 PM Call to Order – Dr. Leonard D. Wheeler, President
Quorum Roll Call
Adoption of Agenda
Pledge of Allegiance
6:35 PM Public Comment
6:50 PM Introductions
7:00 PM A. Consent Agenda:
1) Affirmation of Monthly Contract Awards (Goal 4)
2) Minutes of Previous Meeting: August 13, 2012 (Goals 1 – 4)
Presentation & Discussion(s):
7:05 PM B. Capital Improvement Program FY14, Mr. Cornell S. Brown (Goal 4)
7:30 PM C. FY12 4th Quarter Financial Report, Mr. James M. Jewell (Goal 3)
7:50 PM D. Superintendent’s Report
8:00 PM Future Meetings Review