Consulting Firm Recommends 29 School Closures and $8.5 Billion Over 20 Years in Capital Improvements

by Genevieve Demos Kelley

Prince George’s County Public Schools should spend $8.5 billion over 20 years on capital improvement projects — including school construction, modernization, and renovation — according to recommendations made by the consulting firm Brailsford and Dunlavey. Recommendations also included 29 school closures.

What is the Master Plan Support Project?

In the fall of 2014, PGCPS began its Master Plan Support Project (MPSP), as part of an effort to optimize its capital improvements. The facilities planning and program management firm Brailsford and Dunlavey was hired to study facility conditions and make recommendations on prioritizing school construction and renovation projects.

What recommendations were included in the MPSP report?

In a presentation to the Board of Education at its June 11 meeting, Brailsford and Dunlavey recommended building eight new schools and closing 29 schools over the next 20 years. Most of the new schools would be built in the northern part of the county where, according to the MPSPS report, 62% of schools are over-utilized. The study found that in the central and southern regions of the county, the majority of schools (64% and 69%, respectively) are under capacity. The closures and new school projects would “balance utilization” across the county.

The report recommends increasing yearly spending on capital improvements to $425 million — almost triple the $130 million that PGCPS currently spends — with projected costs of $8.5 billion in 20 years. In addition to new school construction, a number of modernization, renovation and systems replacement projects are needed. In all, 140 projects were identified in the Master Plan Support Project.

School closures save around $30 million a year.

And how much money would the 29 school closures save? According to the report, the closures and consolidations would result in an estimated $619 million saved over 20 years. That’s just over $30 million per year, on average.

What is the timeline for adoption of the new Capital Improvement Plan?

As the Brailsford and Dunlavey presenters make clear, the MPSP is a set of recommendations; it is not in and of itself a Capital Improvement Plan. These are not administrative or board decisions, and the school system is under no obligation to adopt any or all of these recommendations. A new long-range Capital Improvement Plan will be issued to the Board of Education in December 2015, after several months of planning. In June and July, stakeholders will have an opportunity to give input, in advance of the preliminary Capital Improvement Plan which will be issued in August. A public hearing will take place in September, before October’s final Capital Improvement Plan.

Where is Brailsford and Dunlavey’s Report?

According to PGCPS’s website, the final MPSP report from Brailsford and Dunlavey was to be made available in May. But searches for the final report have been unsuccessful. Names of the 29 schools recommended for closure are not yet available. However, the full PowerPoint presentation made by Brailsford and Dunlavey is available here.

Read more:

Read the Sentinel article.

Watch the June 11 Board of Education meeting, where the Master Plan Support Project presentation was made. The presentation begins at 2:32:48 in the video.

Read our previous post on the preliminary Master Plan Support Project report.

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