State Releases Money Withheld from Howard Schools

Maryland’s Board of Public Works released $9.6 million in school construction funding for Howard County schools Tuesday. The board withheld the funds in January due to dissatisfaction with answers from school officials about their handling of mold remediation in school buildings.

As reported by the Howard County Times,

The money was slated for HVAC and roof-top air conditioning unit upgrades at several Howard County schools in fiscal 2018, which begins July 1. Concerns about mold were first raised in the summer of 2015, when several teachers and students reported feeling sick after spending time inside Glenwood Middle School. Mold was found in four other schools that summer and fall.

“We appreciate this vote of confidence from the Board of Public Works, which recognized the quality work and commitment of our school construction and maintenance staff in providing healthy and safe learning environments in all of our buildings,” acting schools superintendent Michael Martirano said in a statement.

Martirano temporarily replaced former Howard County Schools superintendent Renee Foose earlier this month after the Howard County School Board approved a $1.6 million buyout. Foose’s handling of mold remediation had been questioned and criticised by parents, residents and some elected officials.

Martirano said he was confident in the school system’s ability to identify and resolve environmental concerns after he participated in an indoor air quality inspection at Glenwood Middle School this week.

Last month, the school system received a letter from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lauding the school system for maintaining proper indoor environmental quality.

Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman applauded the board’s move Tuesday.

“Today’s vote by BPW allows us to move forward on these important HVAC projects,” Kittleman said in a released statement. “I know that HCPSS is committed to improving the indoor environment in its schools and protecting the health and safety of its students and staff.”

Kittleman’s administration consulted with a firm last year to review air quality at a dozen schools. The assessment concluded sufficient safety and health protocols were in place to control indoor moisture and mold growth.

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