(7/2016) Solving the school issues in Frederick County.
If you look back on the history of County government, weíve been having the never ending discussion of how to build schools for well over 30 years. Our current County Executive Jan Gardner became involved in local government as a citizen activist speaking out on school overcrowding in the 1990ís.
Weíve had the same conversation for 20 years, sheís used the same rhetoric of blame developers, use their permits as political footballs for over 20 years, and we have the same problem today we had when she was first elected 18 years ago.
Let me lay out the plan to solve this problem once and for all. Back in February of 2016, we had a discussion on school funding and why we can only build one elementary school in lieu of two, which have both been in the CIP (Capital Improvements Plan) for at least a decade. Once a school is set in the CIP for long term planning, funds are systematically set aside each year so when the time
comes, funds are programmed and ready for use to build the school.
That all works well until Jan Gardner get elected as County Executive and suddenly the funds for a second elementary school disappear. Jan quickly blamed developers and resorted to her old trick of strong arming local developers into being part of her "solution" to fund the second school. Yes, two local developers stepped up and forward funded the bond debt to build the second school. A school
thatís been in the CIP for at least 10 years, funds disappear, and the evil developers foot the bill, twice.
How did this money disappear? Let me explain, you see Jan made a campaign promise to buy back the Citizens Nursing home and Montevue assisted living facility. She simply breached a contract with Aurora holdings, threatened eminent domain, spent $8.7 Million of taxpayer funds and issued new taxable bond debt of $35 Million for the repurchase of the facilities. You may say, Delauter, what does
this have to do with building schools? Well, where do you think the bond capacity went that was allocated to the second school? The second school had $21 Million in bond debt allocated to it. How do you fund a school when you use the bond capacity to repurchase a Nursing Home? The answer is, you canít.
I have laid out a plan to build not only two elementary schools, but four total. My plan allows for school "A" to be built and financed privately. This allows for the funds to move to School "B" that will be built by the Board of Education. The county cash from school "A" and "B" combined, makes this an all cash deal for school "B", no bond debt. You mirror this model for school "C" and "D".
So in essence, we now have two schools paid for in cash, and two schools paid for by a private firm and leased back from the private funding source over twenty years.
After the twentieth year, the school building reverts back and is owned by the county. We are having another workshop in July to hone in the costs and do a side-by-side comparison and bring this to the table as a viable option to build the school capacity we need.
Itís this type of outside the box thinking that is needed to solve problems. That is what I bring to the table, a business perspective that solves problems. Iím here to solve problems and make county government work for everyone, not just a select few that suit my agenda. Stay tuned for more info on this new method of funding schools. We can think outside the box, or we can do the same tired
methods with the same result, overcrowded schools.