When I think of the Howard County School System I generally think of the individual schools or the school board. I also understand that it is also one of the largest employers in the county and that it consumes the lion’s share of the county budget. This week, in an email from the school system, I got a better understanding of the breadth of the school system property operations and real estate.
The school system owns 79 facilities totaling 7,731,963 square feet and 1,576 acres of land spread all over the county. To put that into perspective, that is more than all of the office space in Columbia Gateway Corporate Park (5.4 million square feet) and more than twice the size of Maple Lawn (600 acres).
The operating cost for this real estate portfolio is approximately $40 million per year which includes just over $6 million for landscaping and grounds maintenance. This makes the school system the largest property management operation in the county.
That’s a pretty big footprint.