The Interagency Committee on School Construction voted 5-0 Thursday morning to grant Baltimore County a waiver to move ahead with putting air conditioning in a dozen additional elementary and middle schools. Hot weather forced the closure of schools without air conditioning for four days this school year. Thirty-seven schools currently have no air conditioning.
This has been a hot topic all summer long, and it has come down to just how fast Baltimore County can make good on its promise to install air conditioning at schools.
“If we can expedite this process for air conditioning to be finished in the Baltimore County area, then I think we should do that. I think it makes sense for kids,” Maryland state school Superintendent Karen Salmon said.
That means a dozen air conditioning projects on the drawing board will go out for bid six months ahead of time.
“All of the elementary and middle schools will be completed with the high schools coming online after that. They’ll be in construction, but they won’t be completed until the following year,” said Kevin Smith, chief administrative and operations officer for Baltimore County Public Schools. “The action today by the IAC just allows us to technically submit solicitations to get the bidding process going before the Board of Public Works actually votes for its next round of funding in January.”
For some time, Baltimore County has been at odds with the governor and comptroller over a timeline for equipping all schools with air conditioning. The dispute caused the governor to hold up $10 million already earmarked for Baltimore County.
Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said he’s not clear, in light of plans to speed up school projects, if the money will now be released.
“We haven’t seen any suggestions that we are not getting that money. Obviously, we’re really pleased today (that) the governor’s appointees to the IAC voted to support our plan,” Kamenetz said.
The plan is to eventually have all Baltimore County schools equipped with air conditioning by 2018.
Read the full article for more information.