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Olszewski invites Hogan to tour Lansdowne High School in bid for more school construction funding

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski has invited Gov. Larry Hogan to tour Lansdowne High School to illustrate the need for more school construction funding, according to a letter from Olszewski’s office.

“I am pleased to invited you to visit Lansdowne High School with me, so you can see firsthand Baltimore County’s need for more State investments in school construction,” Olszewski says in the letter, dated Feb. 6.

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The letter indicates that Hogan and Olszewski discussed the visit, and that Olszewski’s staff is going to coordinate with Hogan’s staff to schedule a tour of the southwest Baltimore County school. T.J. Smitth, Olszewski’s press secretary, said in an email that the staffs of each office are in contact and are working to schedule a tour date.

Lansdowne High School’s physical facilities were rated the lowest of any high school in the county in a 2014 facilities assessment report, and community advocates have long called for substantial improvements or a replacement school.

The school was knocked for having structural settlement, no air conditioning, water damage and poor circulation, among other issues.

In January this year, there were at least two electrical issues at the school: a malfunctioning motor on an air handling unit and an electrical outlet that had to be replaced after a phone charger caught fire. Lisa Mack, who represents District One on the Board of Education, said Monday she’s asked school system staff to “facilitate an inspection of Lansdowne's electrical system to ensure that students and faculty are safe.”

During his campaign, Olszewski said he supported constructing a new Lansdowne High School. Other backers of the idea include County Councilman Tom Quirk, Mack and Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot.

A report on high school capacity, conducted by Sage Policy Group, also recommended constructing a new Lansdowne High, both to help the region deal with a growing student population and because of the deteriorating conditions of the building.

Baltimore County faces tight financial times; Olszewski in January appointed a seven-member group to study the county’s budget, increase transparency in the budget process and make recommendations for financial sustainability amid the county’s fiscal outlook.

In his letter to Hogan, Olszewski said his “sole legislative priority” for 2019 is to get the state to commit to spending $100 million every year for the next five years for school construction in Baltimore County.

This story has been updated.

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