The list is long enough to give contractors a stiff workout. There are roof repairs and resurfacing due for Georgetown East Elementary School and painting for George Fox Middle School.
Mills-Parole Elementary will get tiles, carpet and terrazzo. Crofton Elementary is due for kitchen equipment and fire sprinklers.
Those are just some of the more than two dozen projects that the Anne Arundel County Board of Education approved this week as consent items — they are funded, and the board has given its blessing for them to be awarded to contractors.
Some projects could begin as early as this year, and many were included in a 2006 independent audit that outlined more than 50 county schools to fix, with suggestions that ranged from cosmetic improvements to knocking down the structures to make way for new buildings.
The Strategic Facilities Utilization Master Plan broke down the workload into priorities, with 16 projects rated as "top" needs. The audit, compiled by Florida-based MGT of America Inc., called for the projects to be completed within 10 years. At the time, the cost of the upgrades and construction projects was estimated at $1.49 billion.
School officials say budget constraints have delayed many of those efforts — and inflation has raised the total cost to more than $1.7 billion.
Alex Szachnowicz, chief operating officer for the school system, said of the 16 top-priority projects, five have been completed, seven — including projects to upgrade Crofton and Mills-Parole elementary schools — are in progress, and four have not been started and are not yet funded. After those top priorities are other projects of lesser urgency.
This latest round continues the school system effort to make a dent in the list, but "we are significantly behind," Szachnowicz said. "We have not as aggressively done the renovations as we had originally hoped."
Szachnowicz said funding for the projects began with fiscal year 2007 and is funded each year by the state and county. The county picks up 75 percent of the tab, he said, and state funds cover the rest.
But "with each passing school year, we are falling further and further behind," he said.
Some of the total $1.7 billion backlog has been tackled, but there are still major facility infrastructure improvements remaining on the list. "Add to that over a quarter-billion dollars' worth of maintenance backlog, and you're at a $2 billion hole right now," Szachnowicz said.
Schools were listed as priorities, Szachnowicz said, based on aging structures and capacity issues. That's one reason an expansion of Crofton Elementary, which opened in 1969 and has a capacity of 512 students, is already approved.
Szachnowicz said Crofton Elementary's current enrollment stands at 555 and growing. The school has six portable classrooms, and it might receive additional students from Nantucket Elementary because of redistricting. The school board is scheduled to vote on Crofton's redistricting in April.
Work on the $28.5 million expansion is to begin in May. The project would expand Crofton Elementary's capacity to 656; the school would reopen its doors in August 2015.
Anne Arundel school board President Andrew Pruski said while the board moves ahead as it can, the overall list and the issue of how to pay for it is "a larger issue."
"When we say 'maintenance backlog,' people automatically assume that it's fixing a bathroom or fixing tiles. It's bigger than that. It includes possible additions or renovation of a roof, restructuring a classroom," he said.
Still, he said, "this is a start." Pruski added that the school system has been working with County Executive Laura Neuman as the release of her budget proposal draws near. He also noted Anne Arundel is not alone in searching for money to keep its school renovation plans on track.
"It's a major issue, and it's not just Anne Arundel County. This is a statewide concern," Pruski said. "Hopefully, the legislature that represents all of us can help address that. Locally, we're doing everything we can to move some projects forward."