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Marks: School Board Should Reexamine Air Conditioning Priority List

A list of schools that will most immediately receive air conditioning largely ignores an area from Loch Raven to Kingsville. The School Board should aim for better geographic parity.

Over the past several years, Baltimore County has made steady progress as it seeks to air condition all its public schools. Despite limited funding, the county is on track to reduce the number of schools without air conditioning from 54 percent in 2010 to 36 percent within two years.

Unfortunately, that progress is not shared uniformly throughout Baltimore County. There is a significant disparity between the western, northern, and eastern parts of the county.

Looking at schools by County Council district, after the current round of air conditioning, the number of non-air conditioned schools will stand at 28 percent in the First District (Catonsville); 19 percent in the Second District (Pikesville and Reisterstown); 20 percent in the Third District (Cockeysville); and 18 percent in the Fourth District (Randallstown).

In the Fifth District that I represent, 35 percent of schools will still need air conditioning. The number is 40 percent in the Sixth District, which stretches from Parkville to Middle River, and 36 percent in the Seventh District, based in Dundalk.

When County Councilwoman Cathy Bevins and I wrote to the school system, the  response from the Director of Physical Facilities indicated that "the final selection of projects is based upon several factors, including geographical parity." The current list for immediate funding excludes nearly every school in Loch Raven, Carney, Parkville, Perry Hall, and Kingsville. I don't know how this reflects geographical parity.

You can see the geographic imbalance on the attached map, where red dots represent schools not immediately programmed for air conditioning.

I am grateful that Seven Oaks Elementary School in Perry Hall will receive air conditioning through an energy grant. But Joppa View Elementary School, built within one year, ranks dead last among elementary schools, even though it would presumably be less expensive to retrofit due to its age.

I am urging the school system to reevaluate this list so that it better reflects geographic equity. Students in Loch Raven, Carney, Parkville, Perry Hall, and Kingsville deserve the same access to air conditioning as those in western and northern Baltimore County.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Erin Rice Cousler February 05, 2013 at 09:57 PM
Thank you for your support and the work you are doing, specifically for Carney Elementary School. My kids are in the non-a/c part of the school and the days they come home sweating and tired is to many to count. It is unfair and unhealthy for them to have to sit in these hot classrooms!
Carney Mom February 05, 2013 at 09:59 PM
Thank you for your support and the work you are doing, specifically for Carney Elementary School. My kids are in the non-a/c part of the school and the days they come home sweating and tired is to many to count. It is unfair and unhealthy for them to have to sit in these hot classrooms!
Buck Harmon February 06, 2013 at 05:30 AM
Good idea...
Buck Harmon February 06, 2013 at 05:34 AM
Maybe parents with children in schools that don't offer equal opportunities for education in a healthy environment should file lawsuits against the County and the School Board.....you only get one crack at a good education for your children...
Missy Lauterbach August 26, 2013 at 10:23 AM
Thank you for this article. My children attend Joppa View Elementary which is apparently LAST on the list of schools to be fixed. I also find it strange that this school was built with duct work and is capable of being retro-fitted with A/C relatively easily and much more inexpensive then other schools and yet its not going to be done anytime soon. JVE isn't even that old; the County failed when building this school to complete the job and now the kids who attend get to suffer! And now to see the disparity across the county is just a slap in the face. Very disappointed!

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