With schools closed due to cold conditions, state lawmakers on Friday called for changes to a construction funding allocation system that forced Baltimore schools to return millions of dollars in state money for much-needed repairs, while Governor Larry Hogan criticized he judged "mismanagement" in the school system.
"First of all, I'm outraged by the failures in the city of Baltimore," he said. "Due to their ineptitude and mismanagement they have squandered $ 60 million that the law forced them to return to the state because they did not solve these problems."
Mayor Catherine Pugh said she was ordering city engineers to help school maintenance workers speed up repairs to schools.
School spokeswoman Edie House said the Department of Public Works, the mayor's office and Baltimore Gas and Electric are working together to solve heating problems over the weekend.
"We are going to work over the weekend to address the problems of the facilities, our goal is to open schools on Monday," he said.
Since 2009, the city's schools have lost approximately $ 66 million in state funds for repairs after the approved projects came into conflict with state regulations designed to avoid waste, after the repairs grew. too expensive or took too long . The money could have financed dozens of new heating systems in schools where the heat is now failing.
The representatives of Baltimore in the General Assembly say that the city has found itself in a habitual position. Other school systems, such as Baltimore County and Montgomery County, which receive better funding from their local governments, have money in advance to finance repairs to their buildings. Then they ask the state for a refund.
The Baltimore City school system, whose local government contributes much less to repairs, is forced to estimate the cost of projects, leading to mistakes and termination of funding, lawmakers said.
Del. Maggie McIntosh, a Baltimore Democrat, chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, said she will convene a meeting next week to address the issue.
"The system must be repaired so that we do not have poor subdivisions in this position," he said. "There has to be a solution, especially for projects that have to do with the health and safety of children in Maryland, that you do not have to repay the money, you must have the flexibility to carry out the project."
Del. Brooke Lierman, a Balimore Democrat, said that looking at pictures of schoolchildren in frigid classes should make leaders feel ashamed.
"We must look not only at the funds but also at the regulations to return money through [proceso de construcción de escuelas]," he said. "The process now penalizes poor districts – this is the institutional equivalent of" it's expensive to be poor. "
Hogan directly blamed Baltimore officials, at a press conference on Friday, he accused school officials of" mismanagement. "
Hogan called on the city of Baltimore to provide more funds for schools, saying that the city spends only 11% of its budget to support its school system, while the average county spends more 50%.
"We have to get to the bottom of what's happening on North Avenue [escuela de la ciudad sede] and in Baltimore," he said. "We're going to continue to hold them accountable."
Maintenance in Baltimore schools is being This week, the school system says that it has received complaints about the lack of heating in the 60's and that the heating system has failed in some schools during the current cold period. school difficulties. The Baltimore Teachers Union has urged the city to close all schools until officials can handle heating problems that leave children shaking. Politicians have discussed on Twitter who was to blame for the conditions.
The school system announced on Thursday night that schools would be closed again on Friday to allow for continued repairs to broken pipes and potential water breaks.
Meanwhile, 22-year-old Coppin State senior launched a GoFundMe page with the goal of raising $ 20,000 to bring heaters, coats, hats and gloves to city schools. The fundraiser had raised more than $ 50,000.
Nikkia Rowe, the principal of Renaissance Academy High School in West Baltimore, is organizing a coats campaign at her 9 a.m. school. at 2 p.m. Monday.
"It's worrisome," he said about the lack of heating in many schools in the city. "This is not a phenomenon that is just happening, this has been building for a long time."
Rowe said he hoped the dire situation in the schools would raise awareness that funding decisions should change.
"In the future, in the future, this moment in time will define whether the children of the city of Baltimore receive what they want or not," he said. "The homicide rate is attempted with inequities in education, are we going to invest in children or continue on the same route?"
Del. Cory McCray, a Democrat from Baltimore, called on the state to intervene with emergency funds for repairs.
"What happened, in my opinion, is criminal," he said. "Whose fault is this?" This is definitely the school system's fault and it's definitely the fault of the legislature, the state has to intervene, there must be emergency funds, the city does not have the money.
Doug Mayer, a spokesman for Hogan, said he hoped the city and state could work together to solve the problems.
"We need a lot fewer fingers, pointing and more people working together to solve problems," Mayer said.