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Politics drives school construction decisions in Baltimore County [Letter]

After spending the last year digesting the central area school construction proposal released by Baltimore County Superintendent Dallas Dance, I am amazed by how much the more things change they more they stay the same ("Dance tells Kamenetz he's dropping plans for two schools," Aug. 5).

Those of us who have made Baltimore County our home for the last 30 or 40 years fully understand the segregated history of our county and its "haves" and "have nots."

Over the last decade, the central area received everything — new windows, millions of dollars in renovations and air conditioning. No mention was ever made to the amount of money this area received because we all know this was County Executive Kevin Kamenetz's and former County Executive Jim Smith's tax base.

How could we forget the image of Mr. Kamenetz posturing at Ridgely Middle School to give it air-conditioning because he needed the votes of those parents and community members? What many of us realized over the years is that other areas of the county, including schools such as Pleasant Plains Elementary School and Halstead Academy, received nothing.

It would be easy to pull the race card on this, but that would only apply to Halstead Academy — a predominantly African-American school. It's clear that socio-economics and politics entered into decisions regarding construction projects, and they now are rearing their ugly heads again.

While Mr. Dance's plan was "convoluted" and involved several factors, I must give him a B+ for equity. For the first time, the schools in the lower central area were getting something.

The superintendent could have easily altered the plan and made Loch Raven Elementary School a neighborhood school, and I guarantee we wouldn't be here. But then the county executive couldn't appear like a knight in shining armor to the council. That's why an elected board would be so much better for us, because right now the county executive controls the school board.

Beth Unruh

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