An Essex legislator said yesterday that she will ask Gov. Parris N. Glendening to dedicate more money from Maryland's budget surplus to renovate Baltimore County's aging community college system.
Del. Nancy Hubers, who sits on the Appropriations Committee's education and economic development subcommittee, said she will seek funding proportional to the $1.23 billion in capital improvement funds Glendening has committed to the state's four-year institutions over five years.
Maryland's 16 community colleges were given $121 million for new buildings and renovations in the same windfall.
"The study completed on the system demonstrates what we've known for a long time -- that the campuses at Essex, Catonsville and Dundalk have been woefully underfunded in capital projects for much too long," said Hubers, who served for 14 years on the Essex board of trustees, including two years as chairwoman.
She was referring to a preliminary master plan and facilities assessment, detailed in The Sun on Saturday, that recommends spending more than $180 million over 20 years to reverse years of decay and disrepair at the three campuses of the Community College of Baltimore County.
A Glendening spokesman said yesterday that the governor will be "happy to hear directly from Delegate Hubers [about] the special concerns and needs of Baltimore County's community colleges."
"The governor is hearing from county executives and legislators from all over Maryland on proposals and suggestions for the projected surplus funds," said Michael E. Morrill, the spokesman, referring to the state's nearly $1 billion surplus. "As a graduate of a community college himself, the governor is aware of the vital role they play."
Hubers said CCBC and similar institutions operate at a disadvantage because of a long-standing disparity in funding.
While crediting the CCBC trustees, chancellor and college presidents with making positive strides, "they all work in sort of an impossible world. The two-year schools are not given the same funding consideration for new buildings and renovations" as the University System of Maryland, she said.
The team of engineers, architects and planners submitting the facilities study agreed.
"For too many years, there have been too few resources allocated to the system components for capital improvements," the report concluded.
During its three-month examination of the system's physical plants, the team found that three new buildings and two additions are needed to handle growing enrollment at Essex, which opened in 1968 and is the system's oldest campus. Five other buildings need to be renovated, including the Science and Allied Health building, where areas of cracked brick pose a "serious threat" to students and faculty.
Several buildings at the three campuses, including one housing a child care center, lack sprinkler systems. Although the three schools passed fire safety inspections, they need money to bring buildings "up to fire code relative to fire safety," the report said.
Hubers said she would like to meet with Glendening before the General Assembly convenes next month.
CCBC, Maryland's largest system of two-year colleges, has an enrollment of more than 60,000 credit and noncredit students. The faculty teaches high school graduates, professionals being retrained, and adults in continuing education classes.
Maryland's 16 community colleges educate more than half of the state's 176,650 college undergraduates, said a spokeswoman for the Maryland Association of Community Colleges.