Like religious pilgrims, officials from most of the state's 23 counties and Baltimore descended upon Annapolis yesterday to pay homage to the guardians of school construction funding, the Maryland Board of Public Works.
They came from as far away as Allegany County and the Lower Eastern Shore to flatter, persuade and cajole the board into funding renovations, roof repairs and new buildings dear to their constituents.
During the seven-hour meeting, school superintendents, board of education members and legislators told of leaking roofs, ancient boilers, buckling floors and crowded classrooms. The three board members -- Gov. Parris N. Glendening, state Treasurer Lucille Maurer and state Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein -- listened patiently.
"I'm impressed with your stamina," said Sen. Roy P. Dyson, a St. Mary's Democrat, addressing the 81-year-old Mr. Goldstein and the 72-year-old Mrs. Maurer. "I'm tired."
Yesterday's marathon meeting was an annual ritual in which the board hears appeals for the remaining money in the state's school construction fund. This year, the various jurisdictions are competing for $26 million not yet allocated from the $123 million fund, the largest since 1976.
The board will make a final decision on who gets the remaining money in mid-April, provided that the General Assembly approves the full school construction funding allocated in Mr. Glendening's budget for next year.
The board's decisions are based on merit as well as politics, so it literally pays to be polite.
As in years past, local officials brimmed over with warmth and kind words. Many, like Sen. Richard F. Colburn, a Cambridge Republican, congratulated the board members on recent electoral victories. Others reminded them of past relationships.
Anne Arundel County schools Superintendent Carol S. Parham addressed the governor as "Dr. Glendening," the title by which ++ she knew him when he taught her political science in the late 1960s at the University of Maryland College Park.
Some just begged for help.
"I implore you on behalf of the county senators, on behalf of the house delegation as well, to please, please consider favorably our request," said Sen. Michael J. Collins, a Democrat who spoke for Baltimore County.
Of the $123 million total school construction budget, the board allocated $74 million for projects yesterday under the recommendation of an advisory committee.
Another $20 million has been set aside to help Prince George's County open old schools and build new ones to eliminate its court-ordered busing system. And $3 million has been reserved for prekindergarten additions and renovations in the state.
In other, unrelated business, the board approved without discussion salary increases for several of the governor's top aides.
Major F. Riddick Jr., the governor's chief of staff, received the heftiest increase. Mr. Riddick will earn $118,421, about $30,000 more than his predecessor under William Donald Schaefer, Paul E. Schurick.
However, Mr. Riddick's considerable salary is still about $9,000 less than he was earning as Mr. Glendening's chief of staff in Prince George's County.
Three other aides, Frederick W. Puddester, Buddy W. Roogow and Bonnie A. Kirkland, who respectively handle the state budget, operations and the governor's legislative agenda, will receive raises of approximately $10,000 each.
Mr. Glendening has defended the pay increases as a way to keep and attract talented people.
MONEY SOUGHT FOR SCHOOLS
Here are some of the school projects for which Baltimore and its suburban counties are seeking state funding:
Anne Arundel County
* $2.8 million for an addition to Broadneck High School
* Approval to plan an addition to Fort Smallwood Elementary School, which would eventually require $6.5 million in state and county funds
* $357,000 to help replace parts of Severna Park High School's heating, ventilating and air conditioning system
* Approval to plan renovations at Mergenthaler Vocational Technical High School, which would eventually require $4.5 million in state funding
* $314,000 to replace windows at Madison Square Elementary School
* $188,000 for plumbing and masonry repairs at Carter G. Woodson Elementary School
* $1.4 million for an addition to Perry Hall Middle School
* $2.8 million for an addition to Perry Hall High School, which currently uses 12 portable to handle overflow students
* $1 million to help replace a roof at Deer Park Middle School
* $6.1 million to help build Oklahoma Road Middle School
* $546,000 to repair air conditioning system at South Carroll High School
* Approval to plan for construction of new Westminster Area Elementary School, which would eventually require unspecified state funding
* $2.3 million for addition, renovations to Hickory Elementary School
* $1.3 million to help renovate Hall's Cross Roads Elementary School
* $812,000 to help build Forest Lakes Area Elementary School
* $2.7 million to help build Northeastern Elementary School to relieve crowding in the Ellicott City and Elkridge areas
* $3.5 million to help rebuild Wilde Lake High School
* $530,000 for an addition, already completed, at Longfellow Elementary School