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County Makes Pitch For School Construction Money

Officials from around Maryland head to Annapolis to compete for a share of $336 million in school construction money at the annual gathering known as beg-a-thon.

State House Insiders and veterans call it "beg-a-thon." Gov. Martin O'Malley once tried to re-name it with the more pleasant sounding "hope-a-thon."

And on Wednesday, the tradition begins anew as officials from around the state appear before the state Board of Public Works, hat in hand, seeking funding for school construction and renovation projects.

Last week, County Executive Kevin Kamenetz charged county delegates and senators with "ensuring that the county gets its fair share."

Baltimore County Public Schools Superintendent S. Dallas Dance will make his first appearance before the board made up of O'Malley, state Treasurer Nancy Kopp and Comptroller Peter Franchot.

Gov. Martin O'Malley has proposed $336 million for school construction and renovation statewide including $25 million for air conditioning projects.

Kamenetz told county delegates and senators last week that more than 40 percent of the schools that lack air conditioning in the state are within the county's borders.

"So at minimum, we should be getting 40 percent of that additional $25 million that is out there for air conditioning," Kamenetz said. "Forty-three percent of that rightfully should be ours."

Baltimore County makes up about 13 percent of the state's population and about 12 percent of the schools in the state. State aid to the county typically runs between 10 and 12 percent of the total amount available in any given year.

Last year, Baltimore County asked for about $70 million in renovation and construction projects and received $52 million—about 12 percent of the total amount available.

Kamenetz, earlier this year, said school construction funding topped his list of priorities for the 2013 Maryland General Assembly Session.

This year, the county has made more than $123.3 million in renovation and construction aid requests.

"Maybe that means we get $100 million—I don't know," Kamenetz said last week. "If we ask for more maybe we get more I don't know if it works that way but we're saying this is the number we're going to be asking."

So far, the state has pre-approved more than $23.8 million. Among those projects are:

  • Nearly $7.5 million for the construction of a new elementary school at Mays Chapel.
  • $6.2 million for an addition and renovations to Hereford High School.
  • More than $8.3 million for air conditioning at Franklin Elementary, Ft. Garrison Elementary, Hebbville Elementary, Middleborough Elementary, Sussex Elementary, Timonium Elementary, Woodmoor Elementary and Middlesex Middle Schools.
  • Nearly $1.5 million for roofing projects at Chapel Hill and Middleborough Elementary Schools.
  • $308,000 for windows and doors at the Catonsville Center for Alternative Studies.

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