Gov. Parris N. Glendening moved to soothe disappointed Baltimore educators yesterday by adding $5 million in school construction money to the $12.5 million he had previously announced.
Glendening decided to raise the city's total to $17.5 million after hearing pleas from two powerful Baltimore legislators and members of the school board, said Ray Feldmann, the governor's spokesman.
When the governor announced the $12.5 million figure April 20 at Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School, he left educators chagrined. While $12.5 million would have been seen as generous in most years, the school system had proposed about $25 million in projects in a year when the state is awash in surplus revenue.
School officials said they were pleased with the additional money, which will go into renovations. A recent review identified $606 million in capital needs in the schools.
"Every dollar we can possibly acquire to help with our capital needs is greatly appreciated," said interim schools chief Robert E. Schiller. "Obviously we didn't get the full $25 million, but this additional $5 million is a tremendous asset for us."
The governor's decision came after a late afternoon meeting with three school board members -- chairman Tyson Tildon, Colene Daniel and William Struever, Feldmann said. He added that Glendening agreed to meet with them after hearing pleas for an aid increase from Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman and Del. Howard P. Rawlings, Baltimore Democrats who chair powerful budget committees.
Last night, Hoffman praised the governor's action and said he had told her that he will try to push the city's aid total to about $25 million next year -- if he is re-elected. She said she couldn't criticize Glendening's original allocation because the city administration did not push aggressively for school construction aid.
Feldmann said Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, who has endorsed Harford County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann's primary challenge to Glendening, played no role in the effort to secure the additional aid.
Feldmann said the money will come from the unallocated portion of the $225 million the General Assembly appropriated for school construction aid in this year's capital budget.
"It does not change the $225 million and it does not take away from the allocation that any other jurisdiction is going to get," said Feldmann.
He said the state normally holds back a portion of school construction funds to cover unforeseen needs and cost overruns.
Pub Date: 5/13/98