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Baltimore County schools to use $14.2 million in state funding to address cooling, heating issues

The Baltimore County Board of Education voted Tuesday night to accept $14.2 million in state funding for temporary air conditioning and heating units at seven public schools, but can’t say if the systems will be installed before temperatures heat up again.

“We will try” to install the systems by summer, but “there are so many unknowns at this point, it’d be wrong for me to give an exact date,” said Pete Dixit, executive director of school facilities.

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The money, disbursed to the school system from Maryland’s Interagency Commission on School Construction’s Healthy School Facility Fund, is matched by $16 million in county funds announced in October to cover the full cost of the vertical temporary air conditioning systems that will be installed at Dulaney, Eastern Technical and Lansdowne high schools, the Western School of Technology, Bedford Elementary School, Catonsville Center for Alternative Studies and Campfield Early Learning Center.

Campfield was originally not included in then-$13.4 million funding plan approved by the IAC panel in September.

Also part of the plan, two steam boilers will be replaced at Hampton Elementary School.

“I am absolutely overjoyed to see the funding in place … for the remaining schools in our county that do not have air conditioning solutions,” said school board member Lily Rowe, elected in 2018 to represent the county’s 6th school district after advocating as a parent for improved school facilities.

Baltimore County has taken strides to improve schools operating with inadequate heating and air conditioning since 2016. School buildings that still lack cooling units have been closed by the school system during excessively hot weather conditions.

“It’s been a long road for a lot of our community members,” school board chair Kathleen Causey said. “It’s desperately needed for equity for our students.”

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