Construction money for schools in Baltimore County is in trouble in the General Assembly.
If the legislation doesn’t pass, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski said it likely will be years before any new high schools are built in the county.
The county has high schools that are dilapidated, overcrowded and sinking into the ground. Legislation that would mean around $100 million a year for the next four years for county school construction passed the House but is bottled up in a Senate committee and the legislature adjourns Monday.
Olszewski said the need is great.
“One day or one year that we don’t move on this is a disservice to our kids and our teachers and our educators,” Olszewski said.
The legislation also would provide school construction money around the state.
The holdup, according to Baltimore County Republican Senator Chris West, is that legislative leaders don’t want to pay for that, and another piece of school legislation. That’s the so-called Kirwan legislation that would pay for things like increasing teacher pay and expanding pre-kindergarten.
West was the only senator to vote against Kirwan. Speaking on the Senate floor on Wednesday, West said he supports it, but was voting against it on principle.
“It’s just unacceptable that in the future we will have well-trained, well-paid teachers in Baltimore County standing in classrooms that are egregiously overcrowded and unairconditioned,” West said.
Olszewski, a former delegate, remains optimistic. He said the legislature needs to find a way to pay for both, adding that a few days is a lifetime in the General Assembly.
Olszewski promised during last year’s campaign to build new high schools for Towson, Dulaney and Lansdowne.