I continue to think that we, as a community should be pushing harder for more money to renovate schools that serve Takoma Park.  Just this week, the County Executive, Ike Leggett, was in Annapolis asking for funding for our schools, to fix problems like massive mold outbreaks.  Yet when you look at the County's proposed spending on schools, there is almost no money visible in the budget for schools in our area.   In fact, looking back over 5 years of school-specific funding in the county capital budget, less than 3% went to schools in all of District 5 (i.e. Takoma Park, Silver Spring, White Oak, etc.).  There is a big caveat to that - lots of capital spending happens without naming the school in the budget - so our schools have clearly gotten more than 3% but we are 1/5th of the county's population - have we gotten 1/5th of the funding?  If Executive Leggett convinces the state to provide more money, would any of it come to Takoma Park schools like Rolling Terrace which has had a widespread mold problem and is hundreds of students over capacity?  Right now, the County's plan is just to 'study' that overcapacity.  Do residents want the city to send a letter to the county encouraging more capital spending on our schools, especially Rolling Terrace?  Let me and Mayor Williams know please.

Part of this problem also comes from development in other parts of the county.  As those developments go in, for example at White Oak, the county is supposed to require developers to set aside large acreage plots of land for future school construction and fees adequate to pay for it.  But what if the county doesn't require those set asides?  In White Oak, no parcels have been slated to be preserved for middle and high school space (but there is for one new elementary school ... see page 93).  But they have 4,000,000 sq feet of new residential development.  So when the houses get build, there will be a new elementary school to house them, but when they get to middle school, existing schools will have to go way over capacity - or be expanded.  But the developers will have gotten off easy and not paid the fees to cover this construction or foregone the income from the onsite space that should have been provided to ensure that middle and high school capacity existed in close proximity to new housing. 

And where does the money come from instead, to pay for more middle school and high school capacity?  It pulls money out of expansions and renovations that might be needed here in Takoma Park to send resources there instead. 

This is crazy, long-term stuff, right?  But its the reason there is less money available for our schools right now, because of past developments in places like Clarksburg over the last 5-15 years that now create a need for new schools... which are in the county capital budget.  


04/07/2014 4:38am

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