This was written by Len Foxwell. You can also read this on BCPS Parents & Teachers for Equitable Facilities and Portable AC.
Friends: The members of the Board of Public Works received a highly significant piece of legal advice today from the Board’s Executive Secretary, Ms. Sheila McDonald, and Legal Counsel, Ms. Dori Jaffe, regarding the authority of the Maryland General Assembly to prohibit the use of state money for window air conditioning units.
After stating that “Window units may be funded…as they are “costs that were eligible under the rules and regulations governing the [Public School Construction Program] that were in effect on January 1, 2016,” Ms. McDonald and Ms. Jaffe issue the reminder that “Only the Board of Public Works has the authority to adopt a regulation that defines eligible and ineligible public school construction expenditures.”
The document confirms that there are no references within current, BPW-approved regulations to the ineligibility of window units for state funds, and states that “Board of Public Works discussions make explicit the Board’s conclusion that neither law nor policy prevents the use of State capital funds for window units.”
It confirms that the Maryland General Assembly – the same body of government that has attempted to circumvent the Board’s authority in this matter – is the one that entrusted the Board of Public Works with oversight of the Public School Construction Program, and quotes an opinion from the Maryland Court of Appeals that reinforces the Board’s decisive role in the school constructon process:
“The Board of Public Works is authorized to adopt regulations and procedures for the school construction program, and both the county governments and all of the education agencies, including the county school boards, are expressly made subject to those regulations.”
In other words, friends, the effort of the General Assembly, through an amendment to the State’s capital budget, to “circumvent a Board of Public Works regulation that explicity adds window and through-wall air conditioning units to the list of expenditures eligible for State public school construction funding” is meaningless. Window units have been eligible for state funding and, with the clarifiying regulations that will be adopted by the Board of Public Works at its May 11 meeting, shall remain so. The education systems in those jurisdictions with large inventories of classrooms without air conditioning are, hereby, put on notice.
Comptroller Franchot looks forward to seeing many of you at the May 11 meeting of the Board of Public Works. There will, to say the very least, be much to discuss that day.
For more information about how to get involved, you can contact Valerie Radomsky at firstname.lastname@example.org.