Baltimore County News
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
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
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
Joppa View ES
Villa Cresta ES
Baltimore Highlands ES
Bear Creek ES
Chapel Hill ES
Edmondson Heights ES
Pleasant Plains ES
Pot Spring ES
Battle Grove ES
Church Lane ES
Golden Ring MS
Middle River MS
Patapsco Center for the Arts
Stemmers Run MS
Revised April 6, 2016