By Michael Dresser, The Baltimore Sun
9:45 PM EST, January 28, 2013
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and city schools chief executive Andres Alonso met with Gov. Martin O'Malley for about an hour and a quarter Monday evening as they made their rounds of Annapolis seeking support for Baltimore's $2.4 billion school construction plan.
After emerging from the governor's office, the two rushed to keep an appointment with Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller. As he boarded an elevator with the mayor, Alonso said the meeting had gone well.
"The governor is always an ally," Alonso said.
O'Malley said later in the evening that the meeting went well. "We are working through the issues. Certainly I'm willing to do anything I can to help the city."
School board Commissioner Bob Heck would only characterize the meeting as "thorough."
The meeting with the governor followed an hourlong discussion with House Speaker Michael E. Busch as Rawlings-Blake and Alonso worked to ease the concerns of state officials about the plan.
After the meeting with the governor, Rawlings-Blake and Alonso spent roughly 20 minutes briefing Miller on the plan.
Miller said afterward that the meeting went "extremely positively."
"It all comes down to resources," Miller said, adding that the state would have to come up with the money to finance the first phase of the plan.
Miller, who had previously expressed skepticism about the plan, said he's anxious to hear what the governor has to say about Baltimore's schools.
"Every child in the state of Maryland needs a clean, healthy school," Miller said. The Senate president said it is up to state officials to provide a remedy if the city can't fix the problem on its own.
The city school system, supported by City Hall, is promoting a plan under which Baltimore would receive a guaranteed block grant of at lease $32 million a year for decades -- allowing it to embark on a 10-year school rebuilding plan financed by bonds.
There is a strong level of agreement that Baltimore's schools -- the state's oldest -- are in deplorable condition. State officials have expressed concerns about whether the plan would be unfair to other jurisdictions and whether the city school system has the expertise to manage such a mammoth construction program.
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