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
Latest program is part of County Executive Kamenetz’s “Operation Connect” initiative
Towson, MD – For the next three Saturdays, Baltimore County police officers will host youth basketball clinics for children, offering kids the opportunity to sharpen their basketball skills and interact with law enforcement officers in a positive setting.
“In today’s world, it is more important than ever for our young people to see the human side of law enforcement and for officers to interact with kids in a positive setting,” said Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. “Chief Johnson and I have talked at length about finding ways to expand our existing outreach efforts and officers’ reach into the community in innovative and non-traditional ways; this is one great example. I am really delighted that Chief Johnson and his team are making Operation Connect a reality.”
The Baltimore County Police Department basketball clinics will run from 9 a.m. to noon on the following Saturdays:
- May 7: Liberty Road Resource Center, 3505 Resource Drive, Randallstown 21133
- May 14: Cockeysville PAL Center, 9836 Greenside Drive, Cockeysville 21030
- May 21: Sollers Point Multi-Purpose Center, 323 Sollers Point Road, Dundalk 21222
“This is really great news,” said 2nd District Council Woman and Council Chair Vicki Almond. “Having our police officers interact with young people all across the county is good for everyone. I am confident that these types of programs improve public safety.”
“I am delighted that County Executive Kamenetz and Chief Johnson are moving forward with efforts to connect police officers with the young people in our community. It is this type of outreach that will make our streets and communities safer,” said Vicar Reginald Price of St. Andrews Lutheran Church of Parkville.
Space is still available in the clinics and parents may download and submit the Basketball Clinic permission slip/waiver (PDF) to register. Free water bottles and snacks will be provided.
Operation Connect is an effort on the part of the county police department to engage county stakeholders in a number of outreach activities. Members of the police department are reaching out through activities like Bike with a Cop, community cleanups, meetings with faith based leaders, participation in community barbecues and many other events. The purpose of the program is to allow community members, particularly young people, to interact with police officers in a positive setting. “Our police officers are safer and our communities are safer when officers and citizens know and trust one another,” said Kamenetz.
“The County Executive has asked us to foster understanding with citizens of all backgrounds, especially those who might not be involved in traditional police community relations groups,” said Baltimore County Police Chief Jim Johnson. “We want our officers to reach out to the people they serve through faith communities and other groups.”
Click the image below to see Officer Don Bridges invite young people in the community to the basketball courts.
Baltimore County Executive
What will the schools of tomorrow look like? I would guess that each student would use smartphones and tablets in class, with textbooks relegated to a study of ancient history. The entire school building would be wi-fi enabled, allowing students to access the Internet for problem solving and research at a moment's whim. Why, I think that students and teachers could interact via Twitter feeds, both inside the classroom and even at home!
Well, guess what? The world of tomorrow land is here today - at the very special Patapsco High School Center for the Arts in Dundalk. Earlier this month I joined School Superintendent Dr. Dallas Dance for a tour of Patapsco where we met with the students and faculty for a jaw-dropping view of how technology can be used as an integral part of the learning process.
Principal Ryan Imbriale has created an amazing community of learners in eastern Baltimore County. It is no wonder that Dr. Dance is eager to spread this magic system wide. What happens at Patapsco? Well, here is just a small sample of what took place the day I visited.
It is a school where the principal's daily update isn't done over a traditional public address system, but on the internet via a You Tube video that is also available to parents. It is a school where students are using a variety of social media to enhance learning. It is a school where students are encouraged to bring smart phones and tablets to school so that they may be used as part of the learning process. Classroom Twitter feeds are displayed on white boards encouraging students to react to classroom discussions immediately. In Spanish class, the Spanish tweets were being posted fast and furiously. In science labs, students were using their phones to connect to links to QR codes posted around the room leading to problems that must be solved. Students worked in groups, actively engaging and supporting one another to solve these complex problems. Teachers worked hand-in-hand with students as guides in the learning process.
As my staff would tell you, I haven't been able to stop talking about the teachers and students at Patapsco. I am so excited about what is taking place there and even more excited that Dr. Dance firmly believes that this type of instruction can become the model for Baltimore County. I look forward to making that journey together.
Revised April 6, 2016