How much capital money does Howard County normally give the school system and what does that mean for Talbott Springs and Hammond

In a previous article “Will Talbott Spring ES and Hammond HS projects be delayed due to lack of funding?” I looked at state money given to the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS)….so let us look at local capital money that has been given to the school system and I will take a guess at what might happen with Talbott Springs ES and Hammond HS projects this next year.

First lets look at how much capital money in recent years the county has provided to the school system (in local bonds and transfer tax money):

The County Executive has stated over and over that he plans to fund the HCPSS at an amount in the neighborhood of $50-$54 million for this next fiscal year (to fund HS #13, systemic renovations, Hammond and Talbott Springs) in capital funding. I think that is great…because it is a little bit of an increase ($2 to $6 million over 2020 capital funding depending on the final number provided)…but…that will not be enough local funds to cover the funding needed for both Talbott Springs ES and Hammond HS funding (based on what we are being told at this point) and not a BIG jump over what they county did in the previous year. It is an increase…but I am not sure people really understand how much of an increase that is over last year and that is part of why I am writing this post.

The school system has told us that they need $99.101 million to cover HS#13, Talbott Springs ES, Hammond HS and systemic renovations. See item #1 in this chart for a breakdown of what they were hoping to get to cover all of the projects:

The school system told us that they will only get $23.5 million from the state…meaning that the “gap” is around $21+ million ($54 million from local and $23+ million from state so a total around $77+ million). Right? Not so fast my friends…

Then the school system staff messed up and told the Howard County Board of Education (HoCoBOE) that they cut systemic renovations from $20+ million down to $13+ million:

I know I have a spelling error in the video…dang it the video program I use did not catch that…LOL.

So the “gap” number needed by HCPSS that should have been discussed at the HoCoBOE meeting should be around $14 million…right? I did not hear that number discussed at the meeting…I heard $21+ million numerous times during the discussion that evening…I heard the superintendent say to his staff that they had discussions about this topic…yet they said they cut systemic renovation before the meeting…so why are they providing the numbers they provided to the board and the public by giving the gap number they discussed that evening? Why was the gap number not stated at $14 million? After they had already cut the systemic renovations down to $13+ million before this meeting? Dang it is frustrating to listen to these discussions sometimes.

If I had to guess at this point…given the numbers we and the board have been given by the HCPSS staff…here is what I think happens this year:

  • HS #13 moves forward
  • Systemic renovations moves forward at $13+ million
  • Talbott Springs moves forward (maybe)
  • Hammond gets kicked down the road

Look…I am not on the Board of Education…I am not in any inner circle that provides me any additional insight other that what the general public has on this topic. I do pay attention and these are my guesses (and yes…these are pure guesses at this point).

Now if a magic $14 million shows up this year from local funds maybe something else happens…but maybe not even then…because the school system is so worried (if you listen to the discussions at the last meeting) about the future years it sounds to me like they do not want to move Hammond or Talbott Springs projects forward. I get it…that is their job to look at that aspect of these projects. They will be very careful not to say that specifically…they will not give that recommendation to the board…but they kind of say it if you really listen to the discussion had that evening.

Of course…I could be wrong in my analysis of all of this…but this is where I think things stand right now. If you think I am wrong…let me know in the comments.

The question now is…will our local delegation get involved in this process and find more state money…will the County Council members jump in with recommendations for more money…will the County Executive find funding needed this year? Many of these elected officials jumped into the redistricting process in one way or another…will they jump in to this as well to ensure our schools are funded the way they need to be funded for needed projects in our county?

One last thing…someone should also ask…we have allocated $16.5 million for Hammond HS so far in previous capital budgets (2019 and 2020)…what has that school got for that amount of money so far in the past two years? That is not an insignificant amount of money and one would expect that things to be better at Hammond HS after the allocation of that amount of money. Is it?

I feel like I could go on and on…and I might in future posts…but for today…this is what I have for you.

Have a great Monday!!!

Scott E

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  1. I believe the money spent on Hammond was for design of the renovations. They keep not fixing problems at Hammond because they “will be addressed with the renovation”. I love your blog, but I hope your analysis is wrong. Personally I think that they will leave it all on the books, and push the budget problem down the road.


    • I think I echo the first reader there in saying pretty much the same. First , the cost to do all these renos should really be in the 60-70 million range. A lot of fluff and padding to line the developer/contractor pockets of the county electoral sponsors.
      If that werent bad enough, they are stalling for time so they can push forward that mighty big redistricting FARM agenda through. HS#13 be damned, they need to appease these developer/contractors after the huge fallout and possible legal action that is now facing the county. What shouldve sailed (bulldozed) through fast is now becoming a political quagmire.
      Grab the popcorn…this will take some time


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