Prince George’s County, Maryland, leaders shared new details about a proposed plan to build six new schools using private funds at a Monday night town hall meeting.
The private-public partnership would focus on schools most needed over the next three years, utilizing $1.3 billion in private money. The plan would create space for about 8,000 students attending Drew-Freeman, Hyattsville, Kenmoor and Walker Mill middle schools, with new buildings in the Adelphi and southern areas of the county.
County Executive Angela Alsobrooks told the more than 17,000 residents attending by phone that over $8.5 billion is needed to revamp an aging infrastructure which includes schools built more than six decades ago. Only $210 million is available annually through traditional funding, an amount she said falls short of the system’s critical infrastructure needs.
Addressing concerns over how much control the school district would retain under such a funding arrangement and the debt it could incur, Alsobrooks stressed that the process has been transparent and added the financing option presents an “efficient and cost-effective way” to fulfill students’ needs.
County officials anticipate the deal would create more than 3,000 jobs.
Over the life of the plan, Alsobrooks said Prince George’s County education and community partners would allocate about $225 million to local and minority businesses.
“The benefits of this plan are evident and the urgency of the moment is now,” she said.
Chief Executive Officer Monica Goldson said the plan would not cost taxpayers anything additional. About 10% of the school district’s current renovations budget of $169 million would help pay off the loan over a 30-year period.
The project would also include a maintenance plan to keep up the new buildings during this time. That includes life cycle replacements for items like roofs or air-conditioning units.
“When we talk about funding, we’re not actually talking about asking for additional funds, all we’re doing is being fiscally responsible,” Goldson added. “We realize that the traditional route, though we’re continuing that, we still needed to accelerate this process because it typically takes between seven and 13 years to build a school.”
Goldson says the goal is to be aggressive and innovative when meeting the needs of students.
The school board will vote on the final contract Wednesday. If approved, final negotiations with the builder will begin and would likely run through January.