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Actions by Governor and Comptroller are illegal and irresponsible; Lever’s departure regrettable

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz called the actions by Governor Hogan and Comptroller Franchot yesterday illegal and irresponsible.

“Baltimore County is in the midst of a comprehensive $1.3 billion plan to build and renovate schools, add classroom seats,  and install central air conditioning in every single Baltimore County school by 2019,” said Kamenetz. “In his desire to punish Baltimore County and Baltimore City, the Governor intentionally misstated the county’s plan, refused multiple opportunities to be presented with the facts, and disregarded the clear legal advice of the Attorney General of the State of Maryland. It is regrettable, but understandable, that the longstanding and well-respected Chief of State School Construction would resign in protest.”

Prior to the Board of Public Works meeting, Attorney General Brian Frosh issued an opinion letter to Governor Hogan advising that the Governor was without the legal authority to mandate portable air conditioning units in local schools. The Governor chose to blatantly disregard the legal opinion and proceeded with just such a mandate and clearly exceeded his authority.

State Treasurer Nancy Kopp also warned the Governor that his action could jeopardize the state's coveted triple AAA Bond rating. Governor Hogan chose to ignore the written opinion letter from the State's bond counsel.

Baltimore County is in the midst of an unprecedented 1.3 billion dollar school construction program, building 15 new schools, 11 additions, modernizing schools, and providing central air conditioning to every single school. Never before in the history of this state has a County embarked on such a comprehensive school construction program, all being completed without any increase in the tax.

When the program began in 2011, 90 County Schools were without air-conditioning. With the current budget, 80 are funded or installed and every single school is now funded or programmed to be completed by 2019. 

"The Governor’s mandate that we provide room air conditioners to the remaining schools by this fall is impossible due to procurement laws, which require the school system to publicly bid all projects and follow state procurement procedures," said County Director of Budget and Finance Keith Dorsey.  "Moreover, given the age of the remaining buildings, electricians would have to be hired to provide extensive electrical upgrades to handle window units. It is also fiscally irresponsible because we would be taking needed funds from providing central air for a temporary fix. It's ironic that the Governor would hold 10 million dollars of funds as ransom. Doing so threatens several projects that would otherwise be used to provide central air."

In a stunning development late yesterday afternoon, the Executive Director of the Interagency Committee on School Construction Dr. David Lever resigned in protest over the behavior of Governor Hogan. Dr. Lever, a nationally renowned expert in school construction, has headed the state's school construction program since 2003, serving two republican governors and one democratic governor

In his resignation letter, Dr. Lever stated, "I find that I cannot be party to this degradation of a school construction program that I have worked hard to advance in professionalism and comprehensiveness….The exercise of blunt authority demonstrated at the Board of Public Works meeting of May 11, and the foreclosure of any reasonable discussion on this issue, substitutes the preferences of the Board of Public Works for the expertise of a range of local and state individuals who have made education and school facility matters their life work."

Dr. Lever also noted the Governor’s refusal to allow Baltimore County schools Superintendent Dr. Dallas Dance to testify about the facts of the county's comprehensive plan, stating, "The disrespect with which these dedicated, serious officials were treated at the meeting of May 11 is no less than astonishing."

Fiction and Facts

Fiction: The Governor stated, "We have 24 jurisdictions; 22 of them have solved this problem and do not have hot kids in classrooms.  There's only two that have failed, Baltimore County and Baltimore City. "

Fact: Five jurisdictions still have unairconditioned classrooms, including the Republican-led counties of Garrett, Harford, and Wicomico.

Fiction: The Governor stated that County Executive Kamenetz "vetoed" a proposal by the Board of Education of Baltimore County to spend $10 million on portable air conditioning units. 

Fact: The County Board of Education rejected a proposed amendment regarding portable air conditioners in the budget presented to the County Executive.  

Fiction: The Governor said that the County refused to come before the Board of Public Works to outline the county’s comprehensive plan. 

Fact: On September 25, 2015, the County Executive provided several available dates that he and Superintendent Dance could appear before the Board of Public Works. The Governor never acknowledged or responded to the request. On May 11, 2016 Baltimore County schools Superintendent Dr. Dallas Dance attended the Board of Public Works meeting, but the governor denied the opportunity for him to testify, despite the request of Treasurer Kopp.

Fiction: The governor blamed the lack of air conditioning in Baltimore County on “petty politics, poor management and indifference.”

Fact: Since 2011, Baltimore County has funded a comprehensive $1.3 billion plan that has been approved by the county council and voter referenda. For every one state dollar received, two county dollars are invested.  

$1.3 billion Schools for our Future

  • 15 new schools
  • 11 additions
  • Every Baltimore County Public School will have central air conditioning
  • Providing central air conditioning for an additional 50,563 students
  • 12,289 new seats built
  • Net gain of 7,925 new seats

New Schools

Bedford Elementary, funded July 1, 2019

Berkshire Elementary, funded July 1, 2018

Catonsville Elementary, opens August 2016

Chadwick Elementary, funded July 1, 2019

Colgate Elementary, funded July 1, 2019

Dundalk Elementary, funded July 1, 2017

Lansdowne Elementary, opens August 2018

Lyons Mill Elementary, opened August 2015

Mays Chapel Elementary, opened August 2014

NE area- Joppa Road site, opens August 2018

NE area- Ridge Road site, funded July 1, 2019

Relay Elementary, opens August 2017

Summit Park Elementary, funded July 1, 2019

Victory Villa Elementary, opens August 2018

Westowne Elementary, opens August 2016

Additions

Deer Park Elementary, funded July 1, 2019

Fort Garrison Elementary, funded July 1, 2019

Hampton Elementary, opened August 2013

Hereford High, opened August 2015

Padonia International Elementary, opens August 2017

Pikesville High, complete August 2016

Red House Run Elementary, funded July 1, 2019

Scotts Branch Elementary, funded July 1, 2019

Sparks Elementary, opened August 2015

Stoneleigh Elementary, opened August 2013

Westchester Elementary, opens August 2016

Central Air Conditioning Project Installation Schedule

August 2016

August 2017

August 2018

August 2019

Carney ES

Chase ES

Halstead ES

Hawthorne ES

Joppa View ES

Villa Cresta ES

Baltimore Highlands ES

Bear Creek ES

Chapel Hill ES

Edmondson Heights ES

Franklin MS

Grange ES

Kingsville ES

Oakleigh ES

Overlea HS

Pleasant Plains ES

Pot Spring ES

Arbutus MS

Battle Grove ES

Charlesmont ES

Church Lane ES

Dumbarton MS

Reisterstown ES

Orems ES

Dulaney HS

Franklin HS

Golden Ring MS

Kenwood HS

Lansdowne HS

Middle River MS

Patapsco Center for the Arts

Southwest Academy

Stemmers Run MS

Woodlawn HS


Winter Specials Through February 6

Today, more than half of the 58 participating Baltimore County restaurants decided to extend their discounted, fixed price brunch, lunch, and dinner specials through the week ending February 6.

Restaurant Week offers one to three course brunch, lunch and dinner specials ranging from $15 to $35.  

“We were enjoying the uptick in business thanks to Restaurant Week,” stated Brian Boston, chef and CEO of The Milton Inn in Sparks. “The historic blizzard obstructed our roads and our business, so we are happy to extend the promotion and get back on track.” 

Restaurants

A full list of restaurants can be found at www.baltimorecountyrestaurantweek.com. Be sure to contact a selected restaurant regarding their participation in the extension.

Sponsors

Baltimore County Restaurant Week is sponsored by Baltimore County Office of Tourism and Promotion, Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce, and Sysco. Online partners include Downtown Diane and The Restaurant Association of Maryland.


Seeks gains in education, transportation and public safety

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced Baltimore County’s legislative priorities for this year’s General Assembly session that begins tomorrow in Annapolis.

"In consultation with our County's senators and delegates, along with the leadership of the General Assembly, we have crafted important legislative initiatives that will greatly benefit the citizens of Baltimore County and the region," said County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.  "We will work hard to make gains in education, transportation, and public safety, and I look forward to a productive 90 day session in Annapolis." 

Baltimore County

Legislative Priorities 2016

  • Advance State funding share for school renovation and construction

    • BCPS has requested $133 million in state matching funds that would be used to add seats, renovate and build new schools, and air condition every County school by 2019.

  • Seek full funding for Countys $64.4 million transportation request

    • The County requests that the State invest in regional mass transit alternatives, make traffic improvements in Owings Mills and Sparrows Point, and provide community development opportunities with streets, streetscapes, and sidewalk improvements. Requests on State roadways include:

    •  Extension of Security Boulevard to Johnnycake Road

    •  Widening and raising of the road from Mohrs Lane to Campbell Boulevard

    •  Construction of a sidewalk on Kenwood Avenue from Lillian Holt Road to Hazelwood Avenue

    •  Creation of a center lane boulevard on Liberty Road between Rolling Road and Courtleigh Drive

    •  Improvements to Frederick Road, (MD 144) from Prospect Avenue to Briarwood Road

    •  Improvements to Eastern Avenue (MD 150) from Mace Avenue to MD 702 as well as relocation of the MARC station on Eastern Avenue

  • Request mandatory minimum statewide staffing levels for social worker caseloads

    • Baltimore County’s average annual caseload per DSS employee is 842 while the State median is 700. The County requests additional state funding to reach the median workload.

  • Ensure that the State fulfill its remaining $1.5 million commitment for the Eastern Family Resource Center

    • Based on the State’s prior commitment, the County broke ground on a $26 million shelter, transitional family housing, and health and vocational services facility utilizing $16 million in County funds, $5 million from Medstar Health and $5 million from the State. The $1.5 million will fulfill the State’s commitment.

  • Secure State support for the following capital projects:

    • Clarify bond language permitting State funds to be allocated for Angel Park in Perry Hall.

    • Receive $500,000 in matching capital funding for roundabout at the intersection of Tufton and Greenspring Roads in historic Worthington Valley.

Key Legislative Issues

  • Advocate for restoration of $68 million in GCEI funding in the current fiscal year, restoring Baltimore County’s share of $2.9 million.

  • Work closely with Speaker Busch and President Miller on policies that stimulate the economy in the Baltimore region.

  • Work with the environmental community in its effort to increase Maryland’s renewable energy portfolio, bringing jobs to the State.

  • Address key issues related to use of police-worn body cameras.

  • Support statewide efforts to combat substance abuse.

  • Support legislative efforts to reform Maryland’s criminal justice system.

 
 

Revised April 6, 2016