Education, Politics

Middle River Middle, Orems Elementary, Golden Ring Middle to be air conditioned by 2017

Baltimore CountyThe three remaining schools in the Sixth District in need of air conditioning will have it by 2017.

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced on Wednesday that the County will advance the State of Maryland’s share of school construction funding to expedite central air conditioner units for every remaining elementary and middle school classroom by fall 2017.

The remaining schools had been scheduled to receive central air upgrades over the next three fiscal years.

In 2011, Baltimore County embarked on a $1.3 billion Schools for our Future program, the most ambitious school construction initiative in the history of the State. The County is wrapping up construction on 15 new schools and 11 additions, while adding seats to eliminate current elementary school overcrowding. During the program, a backlog of 90 schools without central air is eliminated.

Under the current program, for every one State dollar received for school construction, Baltimore County has invested two County tax dollars, more than the one-to-one customary match. In the proposed FY17 budget, the County included $121.8 million to forward-fund a majority of the State’s share of the school construction program. The cost of the remaining air conditioning upgrades is $83 million, with $45 million due from the State and $39 million due from the County, after accounting for past County payments of $15 million.

Now, the County proposes to further advance the State’s share of the remaining $45 million expense to complete by 2017 central air upgrade projects in every county school that is not otherwise slated for replacement or major renovation. Due to the size of the high school facilities, those projects will be completed by August 2018. Therefore, the County will be forward-funding $166.4 million on behalf of the State, and will seek timely reimbursement.

After reviewing year-end budget projections for the school system, Schools Superintendent Dr. Dallas Dance approached County Executive Kamenetz about the possibility of utilizing $20 million of surplus funds to forward fund the installation of central air conditioning. The County Executive agreed.

“I am deeply appreciative of County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and his staff and their efforts to collaborate with us to find long-term solutions to our infrastructure needs,” said Dance. “Through sound fiscal management, along with the County Executive and County Council’s support, this plan allows us to not only provide central air conditioning in our buildings but to further accelerate our efforts.”

The remaining schools to receive central air upgrades, subject to council approval, are:

– Franklin High School

– Golden Ring Middle School

– Kenwood High School

– Middle River Middle School

– Southwest Academy

– Stemmers Run Middle School

“I thank members of the County Council, our State delegation, and the Board of Education who have been supportive of our comprehensive approach from the beginning,” concluded Kamenetz. “The success of our program has been a true team effort.”

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