The CREST Money Pit
Frederick County has had its own bridge to nowhere over the past three years. The CREST budget fiasco stands out as the most textbook of cases whereby mismanagement and professional ineptitude is rewarded handsomely with state money.
CREST. which stands for the Frederick Center for Research and Education in Science and Technology, has been little more than a local paycheck for bureaucratic barnacles over the last three years.
CREST has had an annual budget of almost $250,000 per year over those three fiscal budgets, mostly going to salary requirements and discretionary spending, despite offering not one single class or enrolling a single student into its program.
On Feb 8, 2019, the Frederick News Post (FNP) printed a story that reported an appearance by members of the CREST board who testified to the Frederick County state delegation in Annapolis. This was an attempt to save their funding.
Until the program was cut out from the state budget all together, it was spending approximately $26,500 a month, according to the fact sheet provided to state legislators.
The FNP also reported that the CREST board admitted that "the only time the school has been able to offer credits was in its second year between July 2017 and June 2018, according to the fact sheet. During that time, it offered 12 credits to three graduate students and six other credits to two undergraduate students and one non-credit student."
Not mentioned in the reporting directly is that not a single student has been awarded a credit during this July 2017 and June 2018, that according to a previous FNP article CREST published on September 28, 2018, which stated: "Gov. Larry Hogan allocated $262,047 for the center for fiscal 2018, but CREST has yet to enroll students in a course. One was planned, but no eligible students signed up and has yet to enroll students in a course. One was planned, but no eligible students signed up."
The February 8th FNP story stated that the school is now set to spend money only on core operating expenses, including classes (that have no attendees), salaries (for what passes as work), benefits, insurance, marketing (which has yet to see any meaningful results in enrollment), accounting and legal help – which is approximately $20,000 a month.
This is still a total and complete waste of tax dollars when you think about how CREST doesn't do anything and has done really nothing over the past three years.
The CREST school is fleecing the Maryland state taxpayer. The center needs to be acknowledged for the abject failure that it is. Just the operating costs associated with CREST seem to be a classic case of government waste, fraud, and abuse.
An investigation should be launched to see how bad the spending was before the money pit was discovered.