Despite consistent levels of funding at or above the $250 million request, many county schools opened this year to overcrowded classrooms, lack of air conditioning and needs for major renovations.
According to the Baltimore Sun,
Baltimore County estimates it would have to spend $2.2 billion to modernize its school buildings, according to the most recent estimates, and that doesn’t include the cost of any new schools. In the city, the need has been tallied at $2.8 billion — a statistic that civil rights activists have used to decry what they call deplorable conditions. Anne Arundel has identified $1.9 billion in needed updates to school infrastructure and Howard County has a list of $500 million in projects.
With tight state and local budgets, the needs for infrastructure updates far exceed the available capital funding. In an effort to address this problem, the State’s Public School Construction Program’s Executive Director, Dr. David Lever, is meeting later this month with state and county officials to discuss alternative financing that would provide local governments with much needed capital to meet their school infrastructure requirements.
The new arrangements, which have been used successfully in Great Britain and Canada, rely on private financing, he said. The possibility also exists, he said, for local governments to work together on getting schools repaired and upgraded.