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Counties make additional school construction requests to Board of Public Works at yearly 'beg-a-thon'

Carroll County received praise for its handling of school construction, even though the county has been battling falling enrollment numbers, on Wednesday at the annual "beg-a-thon" in Annapolis, during which school officials ask the state for additional construction funding.

Carroll County's request Wednesday at the "beg-a-thon" in Annapolis, the annual event at which school officials ask the state for additional construction funding, was a relatively simple affair.

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Carroll County Public Schools Superintendent Stephen Guthrie went to the meeting — the first of the Board of Public Works with new Gov. Larry Hogan — with a single request of $397,000 to replace the Westminster High School roof, a meager request compared to other counties.

Guthrie made his small request quickly. He said the county's total came in low because it was the only project that was partially funded.

"That was the quickest it has ever been," Guthrie said. "We just take a lot of pride in our buildings and dedicate a lot of our funds to maintenance."

The BPW didn't make any decisions on the requests made Wednesday. Those decisions will be made at a later date.

Many other counties made requests during the meeting, including Howard and Anne Arundel.

Howard County's request totaled $10,267,000, as school officials requested the remaining funding for a replacement for Wilde Lake Middle School. Superintendent Renee Foose said in her testimony that the funding would allow the school to stay on schedule for an August 2017 opening.

She stressed the county's need for new buildings as enrollment increased.

"Howard County is continuing to experience an expanding student population with over 12,000 new students projected to enter our schools over the next decade," Foose said.

Anne Arundel County officials advocated for additional funding for a replacement for Severna Park High School, renovations to West Annapolis Elementary and various other projects.

Anne Arundel County Superintendent George Arlotto requested $22.94 million from the BPW. The requested projects included more money for West Annapolis Elementary construction, continued funding for a replacement high school for Severna Park and gym additions for Woodside Elementary and Millersville Elementary.

Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh attended the board meeting to show his support for the requests. He also tried to appeal to the governor by reminding him where he lived before the election. The governor lived in Edgewater before moving to Government House in Annapolis.

"We have a huge construction backlog. … I know there are competing needs across the state. Anne Arundel County is, of course, your home county. We are proud of you," Schuh said, receiving laughs from the audience.

The atmosphere of the meeting shifted between serious and joking. Throughout the day, officials remarked that they were impressed with Hogan's first BPW meeting, which started right at 10 a.m. It was a theme Hogan said he plans to continue.

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