The lack of air conditioning in Baltimore County Public Schools continues to get Comptroller Peter Franchot hot under the collar.
"This is a new effort the comptroller is undertaking to bring the people to the bureaucrats in Baltimore County," said Joseph Shapiro, a spokesman for Franchot.
As part of the effort, Franchot is rolling out a new section of his website to collect electronic signatures. The logo for the Cool Classrooms campaign includes a silhouette of Baltimore County.
"This is about the students and teachers and parents who use these classrooms," said Shapiro. "It's not about any elected official in Annapolis or Baltimore County."
Franchot decided on the petition drive after repeatedly hearing the frustrations of parents of students who attend county schools that are not air conditioned.
"They're being told that (air conditioning) is a goal and 20 years from now we'll be there," said Shapiro. "(The parents) don't want to wait. Their children are in those classrooms now."
Last October, a group of parents from Middleborough Elementary School came to a Board of Public Works meeting to press for money for window units in classrooms at the school.
County officials will appear Wednesday afternoon before Franchot and the board as part of the annual process for requesting school construction and renovation funding commonly known as "Beg-A-Thon."
The signatures will be delivered to the new schools superintendent, Shapiro said.
The county estimates it would cost as much as $450 million to install central air conditioning in schools that do not have it.
Don Mohler, a county spokesman and chief of staff to County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, said in an interview early Wednesday that the county is working to install air conditioning in schools as part of the renovation process.
The county hopes to add units to four schools—including the new Dundalk and Sollers Point High Schools—this year.
"That's in addition to the 10 we did last year," said Mohler.
"That means there's 14 more schools with air conditioning than when this county executive was elected. That's really significant. This is an important issue and we have to address it in a responsible way."