$4.2 million to go to city schools work

More construction money puts total at $13.8 million

State board approves increase

Montgomery leads list with extra $9.9 million

May 09, 2002|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF

The state Board of Public Works approved $4.2 million in additional school construction money for Baltimore yesterday while giving the city the green light to begin planning for three major projects worth an estimated $30 million.

The funding for the city came as part of the final $50 million in school construction money approved during Gov. Parris N. Glendening's eight years.

The money allocated yesterday brings the state's bricks-and-mortar spending on education under Glendening to $1.62 billion -- giving him grounds to boast that he has fulfilled a promise to Maryland's public schools.

"We have met or exceeded our commitment to providing students with state-of-the-art classrooms in which to learn and prepare for the knowledge-based economy," the governor said.

The money approved yesterday brings the state's total spending on school construction for the fiscal year that begins July 1 to $156.5 million -- less than recent years but still generous considering the slow economy.

Baltimore County received a relatively small share of yesterday's largess -- $1.1 million for boiler projects at five schools. The county received more than $11 million in January, for a total of $12.5 million.

The city was far from the biggest winner in terms of the new money. The $4.2 million it received yesterday, bringing its total for next year to $13.8 million, was sixth among the state's jurisdictions. The only major project receiving financing was the renovation of Southern High School, which received $3.5 million.

The city received other good news, however. The state gave it an assurance of funding for three big projects in the future. Two are new schools -- a combined elementary and middle school in Southeast Baltimore, where the state's share is estimated at $11.4 million, and a similar school at Lexington Terrace, with an estimated state contribution of $9.8 million.

The third is the promise of $10.3 million toward the renovation of Dunbar High School -- a project that had the ardent and influential support of Democratic Sen. Clarence W. Blount, dean of the city's Senate delegation and a former Dunbar principal.

Mark Smolarz, chief operating officer for the Baltimore schools, said system officials were satisfied considering that the state cut its school construction budget in half. "We wanted more, but we are happy with what we got," Smolarz said.

City officials were somewhat disappointed with the news about Lexington Terrace. They had hoped to get construction money to build the school next year. The school system was also dismayed that its request for planning money for a middle school for Mount Washington Elementary was not approved.

Yale Stenzler, executive director of the state's public school construction program, told the Board of Public Works that there were concerns about the school's enrollment projections and that the site has not been approved.

The biggest winners yesterday were counties in the Washington suburbs and Southern Maryland. Montgomery, the state's most populous county, came in first with $9.9 million. Fast-growing Calvert County was second with $5.9 million.

Third and fourth were Prince George's, with $5.8 million, and Charles County, with $5 million.

In the Baltimore region:

Harford County was given $1.6 million for current projects and received approval to include $20.5 million in renovation plans for North Harford High School.

Anne Arundel County received $2.1 million to help pay for Glendale Elementary School.

Carroll County got $3 million, $2.5 million of which is for the renovation of North Carroll Middle School. It also received approval to include $5.8 million in construction plans for an elementary school in Mount Airy.

Howard County received $4.5 million, including $3.2 million to help pay for a new elementary school in the northeast part of the county.

Glendening said the school projects funded during his administration reflect his commitment to Smart Growth. He pointed out that 79 percent of the school construction money allocated over the past four years has gone into areas designated for growth.

Sun staff writer Liz Bowie contributed to this article.

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