Read our Executive Director's full testimony for the FY 2022 HCPSS Operating Budget below.
Good evening Members of the Board of Education and Superintendent Martirano,
My name is Samuel Hahn and I am the Executive Director of Oakland Mills United. Tonight, I am representing my organization’s staff and my organization's supporters, which consists of current HCPSS students, staff members, parents, alumni, and community members.
Before this pandemic, the inequities Oakland Mills schools faced is alarming. As a Class of 2020 graduate and the former President of Oakland Mills High School’s Class of 2020, I can tell you about the inequities my classmates and I faced on a daily basis. For example, the lack of technology such as laptops and computers, where teachers need to reserve our limited laptop carts and media center computers weeks in advance, and hope that all the computers are working properly. Our schools also face poor conditions of textbooks with extensive damage and limited copies for material distribution. This imposes problems in the classroom when students need to use textbooks and other educational materials in class where there is no class set and if spare books remain, students share the material at least in a 2:1 ratio. I urge this Board of Education to take this matter seriously and listen to the voices of students and staff members when they address these issues, and take swift action to ensure that Oakland Mills students have all the materials needed for academic success.
Oakland Mills United supports the Superintendent’s proposal for a 1:1 technology ratio, increasing funding for both bandwidth and cybersecurity to ensure that our teachers and students can continue to teach and learn in this new and challenging environment with less barriers. Oakland Mills schools did not have the adequate technological infrastructure for technology use in the classroom in the first place, so ensuring that our students have access to reliable technology for virtual learning is essential.
While I can continue to address these issues in further detail, in my limited time tonight, I want to focus on a more alarming and urgent topic: Building Maintenance.
This school system cannot just ignore it, cover it up, and move on. I am talking about the almost $230 million in deferred maintenance that is impacting the students and staff of Oakland Mills cluster schools. Why is 28.5% of ALL HCPSS deferred maintenance in five Oakland Mills Cluster schools: Cradlerock and Jeffers Hill Elementary, Lake Elkhorn and Oakland Mills Middle, and Oakland Mills High School. The Oakland Mills Cluster has been deferred year after year and also consists of the oldest schools in this school system and on the list for deferred maintenance.
We are specifically concerned that a significant amount of that deferred maintenance is for HVAC system renovations and replacements. According to the Office of Building Maintenance’s Deferred Maintenance List for FY2020, which is attached in my written testimony: Jeffers Hill Elementary was scheduled for a “renovation and HVAC replacement” which was deferred back in 2014. Cradlerock Elementary and Lake Elkhorn, which share one building, was scheduled for a HVAC replacement, which was deferred back in 2015.
View the FY 2020 Deferred Maintenance Log from the Office of Building Management here: https://mpia.hcpss.org/sites/default/files/2020-08/MPIA%2021-54%20HVAC%20%26%20Renovations%20AUG%202020.pdf
Out of these five OM cluster schools why is 20% of the entire HCPSS deferred maintenance in two schools? Oakland Mills Middle has about $51 million in deferred maintenance, which includes replacing the HVAC system. In addition, there are other projects listed by this school system indicating numerous other items that need to be replaced and renovated for student safety, which I have attached in my testimony.
Oakland Mills High School has over $110 million in deferred maintenance with $38 million set for a “major HVAC renovation”. From the HCPSS deferred maintenance list: “When originally deferred, this was a major HVAC renovation project; however it has been nine years since the project was deferred. Current conditions at the school now require a full renovation. It’s not practical and cost effective to maintain the system any longer. Due to the fact that the system is old, obsolete and continues to be problematic we are unable to provide a conducive- learning environment to both the students and staff.” I urge this Board of Education to take swift action and immediately phase in a complete replacement of the HVAC system. (Full report is attached below)
In perspective, the total budget of HS 13 costs about $135 million, and of that $135 million, almost $108 million is for the base construction (Source: HCPSS Construction Document Presentation for HS 13). In perspective, the cost of a full systematic renovation Oakland Mills High School costs $110 million.
View the Construction Document Presentation for HS 13: https://go.boarddocs.com/mabe/hcpssmd/Board.nsf/files/BG6MJN5B5458/$file/High%20School%2013%20Construction%20Documents%20Report%20BR%20ppt.pdf
I urge this Board to keep Oakland Mills Middle School on the Long Range Capital Improvement Plan and begin to add Oakland Mills High, Lake Elkhorn Middle, and Jeffers Hill and Cradlerock Elementary to the Capital Improvement Plan.
Thank you for serving this school system during these challenging and unprecedented times. I hope that you will remember and take action on the issues impacting the Oakland Mills cluster schools and treat Oakland Mills schools equitably.
Thank you for your time this evening.
Oakland Mills United