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School construction and Kirwan funding not an either/or proposition

As a newly elected state senator who represents a Baltimore County legislative district in which there are two high schools that badly need replacing (Towson and Dulaney) and who also feels that the Kirwan Commission has identified important issues that need to be addressed legislatively, I was pretty astounded by The Baltimore Sun editorial, “Hogan sets up a schools showdown” (Dec. 12).

Contrary to the central theme of the editorial, we do not need to make an “either/or” decision to either support capital spending to deal with decrepit schools or, alternatively, to improve the academic performance of our schools. Schools that are at the end of their useful lives need to be replaced, and at the same time, we need to follow the recommendations of the Kirwan Commission that will make Maryland a global leader in quality education. In the case of Dulaney High School in particular, it is irresponsible to posit that we need to choose between great academics or brown water.

The Sun seems to suggest that this is a partisan issue. I emphatically disagree. Gov. Larry Hogan wants to use some of the available funds to get moving right away on urgent school facility needs, but he has complimented the work of the Kirwan Commission (“Hogan announces plan to spend $3.5 billion on Maryland school construction, balks at estimated Kirwan costs,” Dec. 11). As a Republican state senator, I intend to explore how rapidly and at what cost we can move forward to implement the proposed Kirwan Commission reforms. I know that many of my Democratic colleagues agree with this approach.

We can’t afford to institute all of the Kirwan reforms immediately, but we need to get them underway this coming year, just as we need to provide our students with schools that aren’t literally falling down around them.

Christopher West, Towson

The writer, a Republican, is a state senator-elect representing District 42 (Baltimore County).

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