Hot, sweaty classrooms have been a hot button issue in Baltimore County for years.
In past years, dozens of schools didn’t have air conditioning. So when the temperature hit 90 degrees, those schools would close. And that would have a ripple effect, closing schools throughout the county.
But starting with the new school year, that will change.
Two years ago, dozens of Baltimore County schools dismissed early for four days because of heat. But some of them were air conditioned. According to Baltimore County Interim School Superintendent Verletta White, that was because bus routes tied the schools with and without AC together.
“Our transportation routes were so interconnected that it was very complex to have to close just certain schools,” White said.
But now there will be only eight schools without air conditioning when classes resume next week. So for the first time, Baltimore County will be able to close individual schools without AC if need be, without affecting the others. White said that is huge.
“We want to make sure we have every minute that we can with our students so we can get them prepared,” White said. “When we look at our data, particularly our achievement data, we know that every minute counts.”
Also, three new county elementary schools are opening next Tuesday: Honeygo, Victory Villa and Lansdowne.
In 2010 there were 90 schools in the county without AC. Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz launched a $1.3 billion program to renovate or replace old schools. This sparked a political fight between Kamenetz and Governor Hogan over how best to air condition the county schools, a fight Kamenetz won in the end.
According to county spokeswoman Ellen Kobler, six of the eight remaining unairconditioned schools will have AC by 2021. The other two, Lansdowne and Dulaney High Schools, are in the middle of a political debate over whether they will be renovated or replaced.