Glendening announces school aid

City, five counties to receive $101 million for construction work

`This will be your legacy'

Officials in jurisdictions pleased

funds target existing buildings

May 13, 1999|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF

The governor announced yesterday that Baltimore and its suburban counties will receive $101 million in state school construction aid in the next year -- nearly a 20 percent increase over this year.

The money, the Baltimore region's share of a $257 million statewide building binge, will fund renovations and additions at dozens of local schools in what Gov. Parris N. Glendening is calling a "Golden Age of school construction."

Officials from the city and each of the five metropolitan counties expressed satisfaction with the state's largess. The money is largely being directed toward improvements at existing schools -- a Smart Growth approach that favors metropolitan jurisdictions.

Baltimore City will get $25 million, a $7.5 million increase over this year. Baltimore County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger received the full $30 million he requested. Carroll County officials were the happy recipients of $8.2 million -- including $6.8 million toward construction of a high school in the fast-growing Eldersburg area.

Two of the clearest winners were Anne Arundel and Howard counties, jurisdictions that replaced Republican county executives with Democrats in November.

Anne Arundel, historically a laggard in state school construction money, received a record $13.2 million -- a 42 percent increase.

Harford County will get $8.4 million, a slight decrease from this year, when spending was inflated by construction of a $2.5 million technical center.

Ruppersberger and the county executives of Howard, Anne Arundel and Harford were among those on hand for the Democratic governor's news conference yesterday at Laurence G. Paquin Middle-Senior High School in Baltimore. Paquin will be getting $1.6 million for an addition that will serve preschool and kindergarten children of the young mothers who attend classes there.

The project was one of 44 funded in the city, including $2.8 million for the replacement of aging boilers at 10 schools. The largest city project is the previously announced $7.3 million renovation of Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School.

In Baltimore County, the entire $30 million will be used for renovations and additions to existing buildings. The $12.2 million announced yesterday -- including major renovations at 14 elementary schools -- comes on top of $17.8 million approved by the Board of Public Works in January.

"This will be your legacy," Ruppersberger, a Democrat, told Glendening.

Howard County Executive James N. Robey said the $16 million was "better than I hoped."

"I built my budget around $15 million in state school construction money, so this is wonderful," Robey said. "We were treated very well." He said one project authorized was the replacement of Ellicott Mills Middle School, which he attended in the mid-1950s.

Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens called her system's $13.2 million award "Christmas for Anne Arundel County."

"It hasn't hurt being a Democrat," she added.

With a booming state economy, enough money was available to keep even heavily Republican counties happy.

Harford County Executive James M. Harkins, a Republican who attended the news conference, expressed satisfaction with the total his jurisdiction received. In Carroll, where local politicians frequently speculate that Glendening is trying to punish the county for its GOP leanings, County Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge said she was "very happy" with her school system's share.

"They have not singled Carroll County out," said Gouge, a Republican. "They have thought of the children."

A no-show was Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, whose relations with Glendening have been chilly since he endorsed one of the governor's primary opponents last year. But Sen. Nathaniel J. McFadden, delegation chairman, was there to hail Glendening for keeping a commitment to increase the city award. The spending announced was the final $69.8 million installment in the state's $257.5 million school spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The Board of Public Works has already approved projects totaling $187.7 million. The announcement was the one that told the counties whether they had met their goals.

Glendening emphasized that 90 percent of the school construction funding in metropolitan Baltimore was for projects in areas designated for development under his Smart Growth anti-sprawl policy. Statewide, 84 percent of the money will go to renovations and additions, while 16 percent will pay for new schools.

On Monday, the governor visited suburban Washington to announce that Montgomery County would receive $50.2 million and Prince George's $39.5 million. Tomorrow, the road show continues in St. Mary's County, where Glendening will announce the allocation for Southern Maryland.

School projects

The state will spend more than $257 million to build or renovate schools in the fiscal year that begins July 1. Here are highlights of how the money will be spent in the Baltimore area:

Baltimore

$7.3 million for renovation of Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School.

$4.1 million for renovation and addition at Lakeland Elementary and Middle School.

$2.8 million for boiler replacements at 10 city schools.

$1.9 million for renovation of Cecil Elementary School.

Baltimore County

$22.1 million to improve heating, plumbing and other systems at 28 county schools.

$1.6 million for renovation and addition at Reisterstown Elementary School.

Harford County

$2.1 million for replacement of Forest Hill Elementary School.

$1.8 million for addition to Harford Technical High School.

$1.2 million for renovation of Edgewood Elementary School.

Pub Date: 5/13/99

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