The following is an op-ed piece from Councilman David Marks…
As the 2021 session of the Maryland General Assembly opens, the top priority for our state legislators should be to secure the funding needed to advance new schools in Baltimore County.
This will be the third consecutive session where such funding stalled. In 2019, the newly-elected House of Delegates advanced legislation that would have used casino revenue for school construction. The State Senate, however, failed to pass the bill. In 2020, the Built to Learn bill passed both chambers, but Democratic leaders in the State Senate linked the legislation to the Kirwan funding bill, which was vetoed by Governor Hogan.
Not only have we missed an chance to build new schools while students were at home, learning virtually – but those construction jobs would have jumpstarted our local economy. It was an inexcusably missed opportunity.
I don’t fault our local legislators who have consistently supported school construction, many of whom long before they were elected. I wish our leaders in Annapolis would have passed a “clean” bill that could be signed by the Governor.
Regardless, it is critical that the General Assembly moves to secure the state portion of our school construction program. Three school projects in northeastern Baltimore County are directly impacted: the new northeastern middle school proposed at Nottingham Park, the new elementary school planned for Rossville Boulevard, and an addition at Pine Grove Middle School. The county budget includes funding for all three projects; only the state portion is needed.
Over the long term, the Built to Learn will help us advance other important school projects. In central and eastern Baltimore County, these include Towson High School and a new high school. In other parts of the county, funding will help with the new Lansdowne and Dulaney High Schools and other facilities. I want to thank our Board of Education members, including Fifth District representative Julie Henn, for their support.
Few projects are as important to a neighborhood as a new school. I look forward to joining our colleagues and other community leaders at the groundbreaking for these projects, and we thank them for their support.
The writer represents Carney and Perry Hall on the Baltimore County Council.
– Councilman David Marks