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School Officials Plead For Funds At State Board’s Annual ‘Hope-A-Thon’

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Pat Warren joined the Eyewitness News team in 1992. Pat came to WJZ...
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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)—School officials come hopes-in-hand to making funding requests for building improvements from the Board of Public Works.

Political reporter Pat Warren has more on the challenge of maintaining continually aging schools.

Governor Martin O’Malley recently announced plans to add $370 million to the state’s school construction budget and the “hope-a-thon”– traditionally known as the “beg-a-thon”—provides a backdrop for the reason why.

On Jan. 10, Governor O’Malley visited a new school in Germantown. But what do you do for the kids in old schools?

“Sometimes I feel like because our children are in the city they don’t get what other children get,” said Susan Zachau, parent.

And the difference isn’t lost on the children either.

“My school mates and I are so lucky to have this new school. The new school must mean if we are premier students we deserve a premier school,” said Sydney Johnson, Annapolis fifth-grader.

“We don’t have a lot of money, and that means we can’t afford the lockers and stuff, and a lot of people nowadays aren’t willing to donate it,” said Savannah Zachau, Baltimore City student.

So school districts statewide go to Annapolis each year to beg for it, or as the governor prefers, “hope” for additional funding for school projects.

“Booker T. Washington, one of our schools, was built in 1895 so when you want to talk about old we can give you old,” said Keith Scroggins, Baltimore City Public Schools chief operating officer.

“The state of the buildings, they’re all old,” Governor O’Malley responded. “Keith, I saw you when somebody talked about a building that was built way back in the 1970s. We called that a modern building when I was mayor of Baltimore. We called that recently constructed, so I do appreciate what you do.”

While the Board of Public Works distributes the money, it’s the General Assembly that is being asked to approve millions in upgrades and new construction.

The state allocated $47 million from the first year’s alcohol tax hike to school construction.

The state has spent more than a billion dollars for school construction in the past five years.

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