Equity in School Construction

Tuesday night, I testified at the Baltimore County Board of Education in support of the MYIPAS recommendations. Baltimore County has many aging schools, and the needs far exceed the funds available. Faced with this situation, Baltimore County, working with the Board of Education, hired an independent consultant, Cannon Design, to perform an analysis and make recommendations to help guide the county in deciding on school construction priorities.

Cannon Design developed a plan that will ensure every school in the county will have improvements within fifteen years, within budget. Every school will be at no more than 100% capacity utilization by 2026. This is a fair and equitable plan that syncs with the 91% of survey respondents countywide who agree or strongly agree that funding for facilities should be allocated to benefit as many students as possible.

Towson and Dulaney high schools have serious condition issues, and in the case of Towson, serious overcrowding. They’ve been waiting a long time and they should be high priority. However, the MYIPAS analysis determined that their needs can be met with renovation and addition. The additional cost of replacing these schools, and the other schools identified in the report as premium schools, would defer renovations beyond 15 years for 86 schools, including 13 that serve my district. How is this fair? Some of these 86 schools are fairly new or have recently been renovated, so they are not currently in need of renovation, but as BCPS facilities staff explained at the hearing, within 15 years even new schools will likely need a new roof or HVAC replacement.

Unfortunately, the Board of Education voted to put politics over fairness and ignore the recommendations of the independent consultant, as they voted to amend the Capital Budget to include replacement schools for Towson and Dulaney rather than the MYIPAS recommended renovation and addition. Thank you to Board members Cheryl Pasteur, Moalie Jose, Erin Hager, Rod McMillion, and Chair Makeda Scott for voting to support fairness and equity by voting against the amendment.

It’s not too late to return to the plan that will benefit the most students. The capital requests next go to the Maryland Interagency Commission on School Construction, or IAC. You can email the IAC at iac.pscp@maryland.gov. The county will have the final determination on whether it can fund the capital requests. If you agree with 91% of the county residents who believe that funding should be allocated to benefit as many students as possible, you can write to the county executive at johnnyo@baltimorecountymd.gov.

Watch my full testimony here.

Testifying before the Board of Education