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Why can't casino dollars heat schools?

Mayor Catherine Pugh, front, with DPW Chief, Rudy Chow, right, and Baltimore City Schools CEO Sonja Santelises, behind Mayor Pugh, look at a classroom where the flooring needs to be replaced.
Mayor Catherine Pugh, front, with DPW Chief, Rudy Chow, right, and Baltimore City Schools CEO Sonja Santelises, behind Mayor Pugh, look at a classroom where the flooring needs to be replaced. (Amy Davis / Baltimore Sun)

As a parent of a Baltimore City Public Schools student, the stories of frigid temperatures in classrooms are personal and infuriating (“Debate over responsibility for cold Baltimore schools heats up,” Jan. 4). But it was not an unknown problem, and the lack of leadership from Gov. Larry Hogan and Mayor Catherine Pugh on this issue has been truly disappointing. Finger-pointing is not problem solving. The under-funding of Baltimore schools has long been well-documented. The citizens of Maryland were fleeced by the current leadership in the House of Delegates and state Senate when they were promised more money for education funding in exchange for our approval of expanded gambling in the state. We were duped by a shell game in which the education trust fund was funded by gambling money and the money that was normally allocated to education was diverted to — who knows where?

The constitutional amendment proposed by Del. Maggie McIntosh and Sen. Joan Carter Conway is a little late to address the issues we face right now (“Heating problems highlight inequity for Baltimore schools,” Jan. 5). Where were they when, year after year, Baltimore and other jurisdictions were shortchanged the additional funds we were promised? Senator Conway has been chair of the Senate’s Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee since 2007, yet now she wants to present solutions to the funding crisis that developed right under her nose? Could it be because her cozy Senate seat is being challenged in this election?

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The citizens of Maryland have already spoken on this issue. We approved expanded gambling in exchange for additional funding for education. We should not need another constitutional amendment to make the General Assembly do what they promised. A more sensible solution would be Del. Mary Washington’s proposal to make sure the slots money really does boost the resources available to our schools and fully fund the state education budget, a bill she announced several weeks before the McIntosh-Conway amendment emerged. This bill would solve the problem now rather than kicking the bucket even further down the road.

Another constitutional amendment on the issue means additional delay while we await another referendum on an issue where Maryland’s voters have already spoken clearly. Our children can’t afford to keep waiting for full funding of their schools and heat in their classrooms.

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Aimee Harmon-Darrow, Baltimore

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