BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Baltimore City schools had to return millions in state funding for building repairs after projects to fix failing heating systems and roofs grew too expensive or took too long, according to the Baltimore Sun.
The Sun says since 2009, city schools lost out out on about $66 million in state funding for repairs after approved projects fell through, in order to prevent waste, according to state records.
Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh says she is “deeply distressed by the substandard conditions” at Baltimore City Public Schools, which has received complaints about students being bundled up in frigid classrooms.
In a statement released Thursday, Pugh said that, “the lack of heat, poorly insulated windows, broken plumbing and other critical infrastructure issues have created an unacceptable and dangerous environment for our children.”
The Baltimore Teachers Union asked administrators to shut down schools for the rest of the week.
Baltimore City Public Schools COO J. Keith Scroggins said; in older buildings, heating systems simply can’t keep up.
“We are doing our best trying to match keeping the building as warm and comfortable as possible, with the fact that these kids have to be in school and educated,” Scroggins said. “When we close schools, we have gotten a significant amount of calls from parents saying that they count on us to feed their children during the day.”
BCPS said it doesn’t have a dollar figure on the damages inside schools yet.
After receiving complaints about students being bundled up in frigid classrooms this week, Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford is blaming the local school boards.
When a Twitter user started tagging Gov. Larry Hogan and Lt. Gov. Rutherford in complaints about the issue Wednesday, Rutherford fired back.
“Our Administration has fully funded Baltimore City Schools for the entirety of our time in office,” he wrote. “In fact, we provided more than the formulas called for. The money is not reaching the classroom–ask North Ave. why?”
Baltimore City Public Schools district office is located on North Avenue.
The system said the schools with heating problems or burst pipes that caused water damage are a priority.
Rutherford went on to say there are audits currently being conducted to find out how state money is being used in local schools.
“The schools are controlled by the local school board and the Superintendent who are both under the City’s control,” he wrote… “If they were my kids, I’d be down there at the Superintendent’s office seeking answers! I’d be calling the local officials asking why this is happening?”