BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A message to Maryland school districts from the Board of Public Works: take better care of what you have.
Political reporter Pat Warren reports Governor Larry Hogan’s first meeting of the board included requests from counties for additional school construction funding.
A good housekeeping message from the Board of Public Works.
“I’ve been to a ton of schools that are appalling because of their lack of maintenance and I’m told, well, we’re just going to build new ones,” said Comptroller Peter Franchot.
While budgeting millions of dollars to build new schools, the Board of Public Works is taking a closer look at how well school systems maintain their existing structures, calling for more physical inspections of the condition of the buildings.
“We’re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars here and if you need a couple of employees to do the report, to figure out how to better spend our maintenance dollars, we ought to get that done right away,” said Governor Hogan.
Baltimore City was cited as among the worst and City Schools CEO Gregory Thornton responded to the criticism.
“It’s great to get new buildings but I have a responsibility to the buildings that I have,” he said. “It was appropriate. We have not done the job we should have done.”
Thornton says the city is making progress—and it’s not just the city. The board was unanimous in its opinion that all jurisdictions make maintenance a priority.
“Look, we’re sitting in a building right now that was built in 1772. It seems to be working pretty well for us and it’s well maintained. We’re not building a new State House ever 15 or 20 years,” Hogan said.
The board may consider putting money in a trust dedicated to school maintenance.
Hogan’s budget includes $290 million to fully fund school construction.
Governor Hogan also set a precedent by starting the Board of Public Works meeting on time—a departure from previous administrations.