County Executive Kevin Kamenetz on Tuesday reiterated a familiar theme in stating that his top priority for the 2013 General Assembly session, which opens tomorrow in Annapolis, will be funding for education.
But Kamenetz also named legislation related to guns and ammunition among his priorities as well, saying such measures are directly connected to school safety concerns.
In a statement on his legislative priorities, the executive noted his recent letter to state and federal legislators urging measures that would halt exceptions to national background checks and stop the sale of assault weapons and “high capacity” ammunition magazines of more than 10 rounds.
Kamenetz recalled the first day of school when a Perry Hall High School student was shot in the school cafeteria. In the wake of that incident and others involving students bringing weapons to school, the county issued an order enabling school resource officers to use metal-detecting wands when they have cause to believe someone is carrying a weapon on school property.
Kamenetz said Baltimore County Police Department and Baltimore County Public Schools staff are expected to make additional recommendations in the near future regarding school safety, and “state funding for school safety initiatives will be very important as we move forward.”
Kamenetz said school funding — primarily for construction — was also at the heart of recent meetings he has had with county legislators.
"We have one of the oldest school inventories in the state, and 80 percent of our schools are more than 40 years old," Kamenetz said in the statement.
Given that, he said, "it is imperative that we get a bigger piece of the school funding pie. Last year, Baltimore County only received 12.8 percent of the total allocation, and that is simply not sufficient."
On Monday, Gov. Martin O'Malley announced $336 million in state funding for school renovation and construction projects across the state, including $25 million for air conditioning.
Kamenetz said that for Baltimore County, he'll seek $123 million for school renovation and construction projects, $16.8 million in energy efficient grants and $5 million for safe school initiatives.
The $123 million capital request, he said, will include money for a new elementary school along the York Road corridor, an addition for Hereford High School and renovations for Pikesville and Overlea high schools and Catonsville Elementary School.
The request also includes funding for air conditioning for Timonium, Fort Garrison, Middleborough, Franklin, Sussex, Hebbville, Woodmoor and Middlesex elementary schools.
On other issues, Kamenetz said he'll work in Annapolis to fund county' transportation priorities including an expanded MARC train station in Middle River and improvements along Reisterstown Road and on the Beltway and Interstate-83.