Governor Martin O'Malley announced $336 million in school construction funding and upgrades for Maryland's public schools in the proposed FY2014 budget. The announcement took place at Overlea High School in Baltimore County on Monday afternoon. The funding will help to modernize and rebuild Maryland's public schools. In addition, the funding will create and support an estimated 8,100 jobs.
"The best investment that we can make in our State's future is in our children," said Speaker Michael E. Busch. "The commitment that we have made in school construction not only improves the learning environment for the State's future workforce, but also puts construction workers, one of the hardest hit employment sectors in the State, back on the job."
The proposed budget includes $325 million for public school construction, including $25 million for much needed air conditioning in schools. "Air conditioning isn't a luxury, " said Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown, "it's a necessity that helps fight against mold and allergens in the air, which can cause students to miss class because of asthma or severe allergies. And we won't rest until all 1,396 of Maryland's schools are safe places for our children to learn."
Also included in the budget is $6.1 million for the Aging Schools Program and $4.5 million in Qualified Zone Academy Bonds that provide investors with federal tax credits in lieu of tax free interest payments to make improvements to schools serving a significant number of students from low-income families. The total school construction commitment under the O'Malley-Brown Administration to replace temporary learning shacks with modern, state-of-the-art 21st Century classrooms now stands at nearly $2.4 billion.
"In 2006, Anthony and I visited temporary learning shacks where there should have been modern classrooms, and pledged to do everything in our power to put our children in state-of-the-art, 21st century schools," said Governor O'Malley. "Our balanced approach of cuts and targeted investments has enabled us to build the #1 public school system, invest in our key priorities, and at the same time put us on track to eliminate the structural deficit."