Schools renew upkeep contract

Baltimore & Region


The Baltimore school board renewed last night an agreement with Mayor Martin O'Malley to have the city oversee the day-to-day cleaning, repairs and other maintenance of school buildings for the next year.

Under the agreement, the city will provide $3 million beyond its regular funding of city schools over 12 months. The previous agreement provided $3 million over the past six months.

As the school system fights a federal judge's order that it must pay for the state to manage its special-education program, officials had high praise for the city's willingness to provide additional money.

"Not only did we not incur additional expenses to our already underfunded system, but the city added new funds," said Eric Letsinger, the school system's chief operating officer.

Letsinger said city employees have provided ideas and access to resources, such as new software for tracking capital projects, to make maintenance operations more efficient.

At the city's suggestion, the school system is setting deadlines so that principals will know how long it will take for different types of work orders to be completed. For example, boiler problems will be addressed within 40 days - longer than schools should have to wait, Letsinger said, but at least principals know what to expect.

When city workers arrived six months ago, they said, they found work orders that were years old.

The previous agreement expired on the first day of school, Aug. 29, but city employees have continued their work in the schools, Letsinger said. The new memorandum is retroactive to Aug. 29 and runs through the opening of school next year.

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