Skip Navigation

Image of the Baltimore County Historic Courthouse

Baltimore County News

Stay informed of what's happening in Baltimore County.
Keyword: state funding

By Kevin Kamenetz, Baltimore County Executive

For 90 days in Annapolis, we fought hard, testified at hearings, and made our case for Baltimore County. We secured a total of $942 million in State funding for education, health, public safety, transportation, school construction, road and infrastructure projects in our County. We fought for new laws to protect victims of sexual assault, combat skyrocketing drug prices, overhaul the cash bail system, grow our craft brewing industry, and protect the Bay by extending Maryland’s fracking ban. With strong support and advocacy from Baltimore County’s State delegates and senators, we brought it home from Annapolis.

State funding for County priorities

Baltimore County secured $841 million in State aid for education, libraries, the Community College of Baltimore County, health, public safety, recreation and open space. 

Why it matters  As Maryland’s third largest jurisdiction with a growing population, Baltimore County residents deserve their fair share of State funding. State and County funds protect and improve our quality of life, from 21st century libraries and community college to parks and open space for our neighborhoods. 

State funding for school construction

Secured $48.3 million in State matching funds toward public school construction. 

Why it matters  The County’s $1.3 billion Schools for Our Future school construction program will eliminate overcrowding, modernize facilities and add air conditioning. The ten-year initiative, the largest single school construction program in Maryland, is building 16 new schools, 12 additions, and 7 major renovations.

Easing traffic congestion to support job growth

Delivered $50 million in State funding for transportation projects in Owings Mills, Sparrows Point, White Marsh and around the beltway.  

Why it matters  Most of the Baltimore beltway is in Baltimore County. Funding beltway widening is critical to ease traffic congestion, especially during commuter rush hours. Other projects in key employment areas include the Dolfield Avenue interchange on I-795, widening Philadelphia Road from Mohrs Lane to Campbell Boulevard, and bus routes and bridge repair at Sparrows Point.

Supporting local breweries

Maryland craft brewers can now sell more beer at their production taprooms. 

Why it matters The new law opens opportunities for Baltimore County brewers Heavy Seas, Key Brewing, Du Claw and White Marsh Brewing Company. Coming soon: a new $50 million Guinness innovation brewery in Relay, bringing 70 jobs and a major tourist attraction for Baltimore County.

Combating high drug prices

The County supported a new law that allows the Maryland attorney general to sue drug companies when prices of generic drugs soar dramatically.

Why it matters We all pay when drug companies drive up their prices. Baltimore County insures thousands of local government workers.

Protect victims of sexual assault

“No means no.” We fought for a law that simplifies the definition of rape and sexual assault. Police departments now must store rape kits for 20 years.

Why it matters This new law puts the focus on the actions of the person accused of assault, not the victim, and preserves evidence for police and prosecutors during investigations. 

Overhauling the cash bail system

Supported a new State law that overhauls the cash-based bail system for defendants awaiting trial. 

Why it matters Defendants should not be penalized just because they can’t afford cash bail. The issues for a judge should be whether the defendant is a threat to the community and can be relied on to return to court.

Baltimore County does not operate in a vacuum. Policy and funding decisions at the State level have direct and often lasting impact on everyone living and working here. We will continue to fight for the resources that Baltimore County residents need and deserve. 

Protecting the Chesapeake

Supported extension of Maryland’s fracking ban.   

Why it matters Protecting the Chesapeake Bay and our water supply is fundamental.   

Baltimore County does not operate in a vacuum. Policy and funding decisions at the State level have direct and often lasting impact on everyone living and working here. We will continue to fight for the resources that Baltimore County residents need and deserve. 


Proposal Would Air Condition and Eliminate Overcrowding in Every School by 2021; 2019 if State Accelerates Funding

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, School Superintendent Dr. Dallas Dance, local and state legislators announced this morning a delineated plan to air condition and eliminate overcrowding in every remaining County school.

The plan is projected to be completed by 2021, or even by 2019 if State officials accelerate funding for air conditioning projects in Baltimore County. The revised proposal of the County’s ongoing “Schools for Our Future” initiative represents an historic commitment of $1.3 billion, 69 percent funded by the County, and 31 percent requested from the State. The County has budgeted 50 percent more for school construction and renovation over the next five years an increase from $100 million to $150 million. 

“If the State can accelerate its customary match of County dollars for air conditioning,” said Kamenetz, “every Baltimore County school will have air conditioning in place by 2019, two years earlier than without the accelerated State match. In less than five years we’ve increased the number of schools with air conditioning in the County from 48 percent to 85 percent. While that is very gratifying, it is time to finish the job. I look forward to working with Dr. Dance, the Board of Education, County Council and State delegation to get Governor Hogan’s support of this effort.”

“While significant progress has been made to modernize all of our schools, I want to sincerely thank the County Executive and his team for ensuring that all schools within our County have comfortable learning environments, by proposing a plan to accelerate providing air conditioning to all schools,” said Dance.

“The collaboration between the County Executive, County Council, state legislators and our Board of Education to not only put air conditioning in our schools, but to also modernize our schools to accommodate enrollment increases, shows a strong partnership and commitment to all our students and families.”

“I have been fighting to get every school in the County air conditioned since the day I was elected,” said Council Chair Cathy Bevins. “I am delighted that County Executive Kamenetz is moving forward with a plan that would complete the work by 2019. I will work with the County Council and our State delegation to do whatever it takes to secure the State funding necessary to match Baltimore County’s accelerated plan.”

“The General Assembly delegation of Baltimore County looks forward to working with the Governor to advance our collective priorities for the good of our schoolchildren,” said Senator Delores Kelley.

“Having already written to Governor Hogan asking for more funding, I believe the Baltimore County administration and Superintendent’s plan sets the table for providing the funding for what the County needs for our schools,” said 42nd District Delegate Steve Lafferty, who chairs the County’s delegation.

View a detailed schedule (PDF) for completion of air conditioning at all remaining County schools without air.

Letter from the County Executive

The County Executive emailed the following letter to every principal and PTA president in the County this afternoon.

Dear Principal and PTA President,

First of all, I hope that you have had an excellent beginning to the new school year. Thank you for all that you do each and every day for our students. Team BCPS makes us all very proud.

Over the past few weeks, a number of questions have been raised about the current status of the County’s effort to complete air conditioning projects. Please feel free to share this important information with your school community.

When I began my term in office five years ago, I inherited a twin dilemma of aging schools and rising enrollment. Eighty percent of our schools were more than 40 years old, with just 48 percent air conditioned. We embarked on a record $1.3 billion Schools for Our Future program to eliminate all current and projected overcrowding, and modernize our schools with air conditioning, technology and public safety improvements. This commitment increases by 50 percent the amount of bond funding that we have previously allocated for school construction.

Our efforts so far are impressive. So far, we have funded seven new schools and eleven additions, and with the current funding in place, the number of air conditioned schools has increased from 48 percent to 85 percent.

With current levels of funding, we can finish the job by 2021, with the County putting in $2 for every $1 provided by the State.

If the State were to match us dollar for dollar, we can get the job done even sooner.

As we move forward, Dr. Dance and I will be working with the County Council and our State delegation to secure accelerated State funding which would allow us to complete the remaining projects even sooner than currently programmed. I will keep you apprised of our progress.

The schools for our furture campaign involves a $1.3 billion investment from 2011 to 2021.

In 2011, only 48 percent of schools were air conditioned. In 2015, that number is 85 percent.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is it possible to complete all of the remaining schools prior to 2021?

A: Yes. At the present time, Baltimore County contributes $2 for every $1 of State funding for total school construction and renovation. We believe the State should accelerate its funding for air conditioning, which would allow Baltimore County to expedite the completion schedule.

Q: Is it possible to install window air conditioners while waiting for these projects to be completed?

A: The Interagency Committee on School Construction (IAC) prohibits State funding for window units in schools, finding that window units are not as energy efficient as central air, requires a higher level of maintenance, and would delay for 15 years any State contribution toward central air. 

Moreover, given the deteriorating condition of the remaining schools in question, window air conditioners do not appear to be a wise choice for Baltimore County. Aging electrical wiring will not accommodate the electrical needs of window units and would require hundreds of thousands of dollars to implement electrical upgrades for a very short-term, “band aid” approach.

There are other issues as well. For example, new schools for both Westowne and Catonsville Elementary are currently under construction and will open for students in August 2016. In June 2015, there were four days of school where temperatures exceeded 90 degrees. It would make no sense to upgrade the electrical systems in those schools, install window units for four days and then demolish those same schools a few weeks later. That would simply be fiscally irresponsible.

Q: Didn’t Anne Arundel County successfully install window units?

A: In 2002, Anne Arundel County installed window units in 36 schools as a stop-gap measure before proceeding with installation of central air. Today, 13 years later, 15 schools in Anne Arundel County still have window units. The installation of window units only served to delay the central air installation, costing taxpayers more than if they had just installed central air initially. Baltimore County’s Schools for Our Future program encompasses more than just central air; it also includes systemic upgrades for infrastructure.

Completion Date Schedule

I have attached a schedule showing completion dates (PDF) for all of the remaining schools. While I recognize that every school community would like to be first on the list, I know that people understand that there must be a process in place to move forward with funding. The list was developed by the school system using a variety of factors: overcrowding needs, Mechanical, Engineering and Plumbing Assessments (MEC), identifying the least costly schools on the front end in order to complete as many schools as possible, geographic distribution, and the more complicated need for replacement schools and renovations that also consider capacity.

Video Detailing Schools for Our Future

Please visit Baltimore County’s YouTube page to view and share the “Schools for Our Future" video.

I hope this information is helpful, and please do not hesitate to contact me if you have additional questions. Working together, we will not rest until 100 percent of our schools are air conditioned. It is what our students and teachers deserve.

Very truly yours,

Kevin Kamenetz

Interagency Committee on School Construction Letter

View the Interagency Committee on School Construction (IAC) letter. (PDF)


 
 
Revised September 26, 2016