ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)–In the grip of a shrinking budget, Maryland school districts bring their hopes to Annapolis.
Political reporter Pat Warren explains along with those hopes come limited expectations.
It’s the annual opportunity for school districts to ask the Board of Public Works for additional construction funds, but the budget doesn’t leave much to build on.
“I think the city schools are very neglected,” said a Baltimore parent.
In some Baltimore schools, not much has changed since the kids’ parents went to school.
“It was rundown,” said one parent.
“Schools had to be closed because there’s no heat,” said another.
“We had problems with the lights. They would go out from time to time, which got in the way of our work,” said a student.
A bright spot last year was the first phase of renovation at Violetville Elementary in Baltimore.
“To see it actually come, we just don’t have words for them,” said a school official.
But to keep this and other projects going statewide won’t be easy.
“Sure, we’re trying to put 10 pounds of potatoes in a 5-pound sack, but it just doesn’t fit, and so it’s frustrating,” said Comptroller Peter Franchot.
Franchot has toured schools with leaky roofs, and Baltimore County needs to replace Dundalk High.
As a former Baltimore mayor, Governor Martin O’Malley knows how important those construction funds are.
“One of the more interesting changes that when I became governor was to walk through school buildings that from my perspective look immaculate and new and really nice, and hear school board members in those jurisdictions talk with disdain and disgust about their discrepant 20-year-old buildings,” said O’Malley.” And I thought to myself ‘You should see kids that are succeeding and improving in buildings that are three times that age.’”
Education is a priority, but there a lot of other things to keep the state running. Further cuts are not out of the question.
Maryland’s 24 school systems asked for $378 million, but the state has only $101 million available.