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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


- Commission for Women Selects Three Outstanding Baltimore County Women

The Baltimore County Commission for Women will recognize three outstanding women at their 34th Annual Woman of the Year Awards Ceremony. These awards are given to female County residents who have enhanced the lives of others and made significant contributions to their community, workplace, or school to further the interests of women and children.

 The 2016 award winners are:

  • Nancy Hafford, Woman of the Year
  • Anita Rozenel, The LaFrance Muldrow Woman Making a Difference Award
  • Kenisha Brannon, Owings Mills High School, Young Woman of the Year

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz will lead the recognition of awardees at a ceremony in March, together with members of the Baltimore County Council and State House delegation.

 Nancy Hafford, Woman of the Year

 Nancy Hafford has been the Executive Director of the Towson Chamber of Commerce since 2005, and since then has helped transform Towson as a preferred location in Baltimore County for business, dining, entertainment and living. Her contributions have improved the overall quality of life of its citizens a hundredfold. Aside from the business community, she also spends her time advocating for disadvantaged children and mentoring young women. She has become a unifying force in Baltimore County through her leadership, compassion, and understanding of what needs to be done to help our county thrive.

Anita Rozenel, LaFrance Muldrow Woman Making a Difference Award

The Baltimore County Commission for Women’s 2016 “LaFrance Muldrow Woman Making a Difference” award winner is Anita Rozenel. She is the founder of Kids Helping Hopkins, a program that assists children coping with illness. As a music teacher with the Baltimore County Public Schools for more than 20 years, she has partnered with many students by instilling the value of giving back. Anita is also known as the “Music Lady,” who continuously provides music and sings along with the children who are ill.

Kenisha Brannon, Young Woman of the Year

Kenisha Brannon a senior at Owings Mills High School is an outstanding student. Through her leadership and organizational skills she has helped her school excel as a place where learning is valued and students exhibit school pride. She spearheaded fundraising initiatives by leading the Red Cross Blood Drive and the Harlem Wizards Basketball exhibition, which benefits school programs. She is also the Student Government President and a competitive track runner.

For additional information about these awards please contact Nancy Surosky at 410-887-2450 or nsurosky@baltimorecountymd.gov.


photo of Dr. Dance with groupDr. S. Dallas Dance, Superintendent, Baltimore County Public Schools

Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) is so fortunate to have the support of students, their families, staff, elected officials, business partners, and community members. By working together, we are preparing every student for success in the future and ensuring that the county remains strong.

Every year, we ask for your opinions on how our schools and system are doing so that we can pinpoint areas for improvement. The 2016 BCPS Stakeholder Satisfaction Survey is now available online at https://bcps.co1.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_eQm7Z37Wguu2eRT.

There are separate but related questions for students in Grades 4-12, parents, community members, and staff. The survey is anonymous and only takes about five minutes via phone, tablet, or computer. We want to know what you think about academics, safety, communication, and organizational effectiveness.

photo of kids with Team BCPS frameLast year, we received almost 75,000 responses. That was a huge increase from prior years, but I know we can do better. Individuals who fit into more than one category can take the survey more than once: as a staff member, as a community member, and for each school your children attend.

Parents can choose to take the survey at a school or the public library. In addition to English, this year’s survey is also available for parents and community members in Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Urdu, Arabic, Nepali, Yoruba, Russian, French, Tagalog, Uzbek, Amharic, Korean and Gujarati.

I want to hear from all of you! Please take a moment and share your voice by February 29.


 
 

Revised April 6, 2016