The county executives of three of Maryland’s largest jurisdictions are pressing the General Assembly for more money for building and repairing public schools in their counties.
If Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett, and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III have their way, the state would become a partner of the three counties to raise money for construction.
“This is truly a united effort,” Kamenetz said at a news conference. “For the first time in recent history, Baltimore County, Montgomery County and Prince George’s — or the ‘Big Three,’ as we often refer to our counties — are working together on an issue that is critical to each of our respective counties.”
“We three County Executives have a very simple message: Our kids and families can't afford for any of us to play 'catch up,” Leggett said in a news release.
"We believe that the state needs to take a serious look at ensuring that all students have the best facilities and classrooms as we prepare them for the 21st century,” Baker said in a release.
The school buildings in the three counties are beginning to show their age. According to Prince Georges County data, 32 percent of its public schools were built at least 50 years ago and another 49 percent are over 30 years old.
“In order for our children to achieve and succeed in school, we must provide them with a better quality learning environment and up to date facilities," Baker said in a news release.
According to Leggett, Montgomery County’s school system has grown by about 2,000 students a year over the past several years. The county school population is expected to have the highest increase in enrollment in the state. Over the next 12 years, their projected enrollment will grow by 25,000 students, according to county data.
The three county executives were not specific about how the partnership would work or how much they need. But they noted a surge in the number of portable classroom units as a signal of future need.
“We cannot wait when we have an unusually high number of students in portables,” he said. “We need to respond to this challenge today. And I believe that when you look at the evidence, there is a compelling case in Montgomery, Prince George’s and Baltimore County, and really in many places throughout the state of Maryland.”