The Facebook page Mobilize HoCo Schools Public Page made the following post on December 27th:

Howard County Council Member Liz Walsh has prefiled CB1-2020, to increase the APFO wait time from 4 to 7 years if a project fails one or more components of the school capacity test of the Adequate Public Facilities Act of Howard County.

Sound familiar? The 2019 version of Walsh’s bill, CB17-2019, failed 2-2 with Yungmann and Rigby voting in the negative (Jones absent).

We are expecting to see a different outcome with this bill.

ICYMI, back in July 2019, Council Member Rigby justified her vote against CB17 by stating that HCPSS needed to complete redistricting first: “I think we really need to see… real, meaningful redistricting that goes across the whole system… If I saw that then I would feel much more confident in extending the waiting time… if the conditions were right, I’m absolutely supportive of changing how it is currently…”

HCPSS redistricting complete 
CB1-2020 prefiled 
Let’s get this bill passed to give our school infrastructure time to catch up! 

https://apps.howardcountymd.gov/olis/LegislationDetail.aspx?LegislationID=12387

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I saw the noted comments above attributed to Councilmember Rigby so I had to go pull the statement from the vote on CB17-2019 back in July of 2019:

These were not all of the statements that evening from Councilmember Rigby…but ones towards the end of the discussion that I thought were relevant to the noted comments in the Facebook post above.

Some of the comments that stood out to me from the vote back in July were:

  • “Wipe the map clean”
  • “Prioritize walkers”

It will be interesting to see if the Howard County Board of Education went far enough to change the vote from this councilmember on this legislation this time around.

Check out all of the comments here from all councilmembers on CB17-2019 starting at the 31:37 mark of the video.

It will also be interesting to see how Councilmember Opel Jones votes on this legislation this time around. He was not present for the vote back in July (as noted above).

Howard County Board of Education member Vicky Cutroneo posted the following on Facebook:

The first County Council legislation of 2020 has been pre-filed by County Councilwoman Liz Walsh.

CB1-2020: An Act altering the number of consecutive years a project or phase of a project must be retested if a project fails one or more components of the school capacity test of the Adequate Public Facilities Act of Howard County.

This legislation would increase the APFO wait time to 7 years.

The 2019 version of this bill, CB17-2019 failed 2-2-1. I hope that the realities of inadequate infrastructure to support exploding enrollment growth and capital funding challenges will lend itself to a different outcome in 2020. Redistricting is no longer a viable option.. we need funding and time to build the infrastructure. This legislation would provide the latter.

CB1-2020 will be pre-filed at the first County Council legislative session on January 6th at 7pm.

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The item that stood out to me from this statement is:

  • “Redistricting is no longer a viable option.. we need funding and time to build the infrastructure. This legislation would provide the latter.”

This is a difficult balancing act for the County Council…balancing trying not to overdevelop in certain areas and overcrowd our schools while also balancing needed development funding coming into the county (funding needed for the schools and other county priorities).

I expect this to be an interesting discussion as it works through the system.

Scott E