Prince George’s County Public Schools is the second-largest school system in Maryland. It is also the second-oldest, with more than half of its 208 schools over 50 years old.
Like many school systems around the nation, Prince George’s faces rising enrollment with aging buildings and not enough seats. To address these shortfalls, the county has initiated an alternative construction financing program with some of the industry’s leading AEC firms, whose goal is to accelerate the time it takes to plan, finance, and build schools, and to reduce the cost of construction and maintenance.
COMMITMENT TO SMALL AND MINORITY BUSINESS PARTICIPATION
This consortium, known as Prince George’s County Education & Community Partners, this week broke ground on six K-8 and Middle schools whose completion is scheduled for the summer of 2023. The properties will be turned over to the consortium on July 1 to begin construction through a Public-Private partnership delivery approach. The consortium comprises Fengate Asset Management, an alternative investment manager focused on infrastructure, private equity, and real estate strategies; Gilbane Development Company (a financing member), Gilbane Building Company (the lead design-builder), Stantec (designer and AOR), and Honeywell (lead services provider).
According to the Prince George’s County Public Schools “Blueprint Schools” website, Arel Architects, a certified county-based small business and minority business enterprise, is part of the design team and has a mentor protégé relationship with Stantec. Warren Builds Construction and Corenic Construction Group (also certified small and minority businesses) are on the construction team and have mentor protégé relationships with Gilbane. Three|E Consulting Group serves as the economic inclusion and compliance team.
The consortium is guaranteeing procurement of at least 30% of total eligible costs of the program to minority-owned businesses, community-based small businesses, and the creation of county-based jobs.
CUTTING THE PLAN-TO-BUILD TIME IN HALF
In Maryland, it typically takes seven years to plan and build a school. The consortium’s members believe the county’s alternative financing approach can cut that time in half, and save an aggregate of $174 million in deferred maintenance and construction costs for all six new schools, compared to a traditional construction procurement model.
The six schools under construction create 3,000 jobs and will result in upgraded facilities for more than 8,000 students and their families.
Prince George’s County claims to be the first public school system in the U.S. to leverage a full-scope alternative financing model to design, build, finance, and maintain a multi-school K-12 construction program.
“We have made tremendous strides in the area of long-range facility planning to advance from a capital program of primarily emergency repair projects toward a major modernization program with a plan to address each older facility in our inventory over the next 20 years,” says Dr. Monica Goldson, CEO of Prince George’s County Public Schools. “The Blueprint Schools initiative helps us accelerate delivery of new schools and modernizations for safe, sustainable, educational facilities to fully support 21st Century instruction for our students, staff, and community.”