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Millions proposed for school building projects

"Investing in education," is how Wilson Parran put it. He's the president of the Calvert County commissioners. Parran was at Western School of Technology and Environmental Science in Catonsville to hear Gov. Martin O'Malley talk about the proposal to spend $333 million on school renovation and construction projects in the coming year. Other education, state and county leaders, including Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr. and Baltimore County schools Superintendent Joe A. Hairston, also joined the governor for a tour of the school, which is slated to receive nearly $900,000 in the coming school year for a new roof.

"If we expect a lot of our children, they should expect a lot of us," Parran told me. "We have to invest in the infrastructure of schools. We have to put our money where our mouth is."

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An independent audit last year of Baltimore County school system's education plan unexpectedly pointed out the effect of aging buildings. The auditors said they were shocked to find some of the schools in as bad of a condition as they did. County and school officials routinely stress that the system has the 2nd oldest stock of school buildings in the state.

Without realizing it, Brittany Cole, a 17-year-old senior at Western Tech, echoed the audit's rationale on deteriorating school buildings --- it's hard to concentrate when you're too hot or too cold.

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"I think a new roof will give the school better insulation," she said hopefully.

So, teachers, parents, students ... what needs fixing at your school?

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