Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has cut $5 million in funding to Baltimore City in a dispute over air conditioning in the public schools.
Hogan said he will release the money when the city and county have a plan to put AC units in all schools by the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year.
Baltimore City and Baltimore County have the most classrooms without air conditioning out of all the districts in the state.
Schools were closed for several days last year due to excessive heat.
“I don’t understand how withholding will solve any problems for city students,” said Frank Patella of the ACLU-MD. “City students have the greatest need in the state in terms of funding. They attend the school buildings which are the oldest in the state and the most deficient in the state, and it’s been ignored for too long.”
Tee Hardy, a parent of children who attend Baltimore City public schools, says funding cuts will worsen inner-city violence.
“5 people were shot on Memorial Day,” says Tee Hardy, a parent of children who attend Baltimore City public schools. “A young man was shot on Friday. A young man was shot 2 weeks ago, and days after that, his friend was stabbed up. Not to mention the countless armed robberies that are going unreported.”
“It’s our children; and I hate to say it like that, but if we don’t invest in them, if we don’t show them that we love them, they will continue down this road,” says Hardy. “If we want to combat the violence, we have to invest in these children.”
RUSH TRANSCRIPT: CROWD CHANTING: Don’t hold us hostage, restore the $5 million! JAISAL NOOR, REPORTER: In a city plagued with poverty and dilapidated schools, a battle over funding to fix them heated up Tuesday when protesters gathered to demand Governor Larry Hogan restore $5 million he cut in a dispute over air conditioning. TEE HARDY, PUBLIC SCHOOL PARENT & ADVOCATE: We’re asking you to give us the money to fix the ACs, to fix the roofs, to the fix the security systems and your taking it from us. How do you think these kids are supposed to feel? NOOR: Last month the Maryland Board of Public Works voted to withhold $5 million from Baltimore City Schools and another $10 million from county schools. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said he will only release the money when the city and county have a plan to put Air conditioning in all schools by the start of the next school year LARRY, HOGAN, REPUBLICAN GOVERNOR OF MARYLAND: The Board of Public Works withhold $10 million from Baltimore County’s request and $5 million from Baltimore City’s request until both jurisdictions return to this board with a plan detailing how they are going to install air conditioning units in all un-air conditioned classrooms by the beginning of the next school year,”. NOOR: Baltimore city and county are the two districts in the state that have large numbers of classrooms without air conditioning. Last year schools were closed several days due to excessive heat. The protesters say they want all Baltimore schools to have ACs, but withholding critical funding will only delay badly needed repairs. Hampstead Hill Elementary School students Star Flores & Daja Thomas spoke out after the rally STAR FLORES, STUDENT : The governor has been holding back $5 million dollars for ACs for all schools, but how are we supposed to do that by September if we don’t have money? DAJA THOMAS, STUDENT: We’re fortunate to have ACs in all schools but the thing we don’t have is a new roof. NOOR: What’s wrong with your roof? THOMAS: It be leaking sometimes. We asked Frank Patinella is an education advocate for the ACLU of Maryland and a leader of the Baltimore Education Coalition to respond to a statement from the office of the Comptroller of Maryland NOOR: The director of communications of the Comptroller of Maryland, and they said first of all if they are saying that this school is not going to get an AC because money is being withheld, maybe the city is getting the message, maybe we need to withhold more money. What is your response to that? FRANK PATINELLA, ACLU-MD: I don’t understand how withholding will solve any problems for city students. City students have the greatest need in the state in terms of funding. They attend the school buildings which are the oldest the state and the most deficient in the state, and its been ignored for too long. NOOR: Matt Hornbeck principal at Hampstead Hills says withholding money for pre approved projects unless the city installs temporary window cooling units in all schools is shortsighted. MATT HORNBECk, PRINCIPAL: If the Governor’s plan goes through with $27 million in temporary AC units, it’s going to mean cuts to field trips, supplies for teachers, teacher jobs themselves., we’re already at a deficit in the city and its not a good time to make these demands on city schools. NOOR: Among the community leaders speaking out at the rally was Guilford Elementary Parent Tee Hardy. She said holding funding to high need communities is the wrong approach. More than 90% of Baltimore students qualify for free or reduced lunches. On Tuesday the school system announced over 100 layoffs due to budget shortfalls TEE HARDY, PARENT AND ADVOCATE: The kids from these communities feel like no one is about them, and they go to school and there’s nothing there for them except a poor education, a hot school, and a roof caving in on them. How would they feel they are cared for? Sometimes all these children is us to love them. All they have is the school. They are dealing with trauma all day long throughout their life. In their neighborhood, in their communities, at home, with their parents. And they come to school and have to deal with the same amount of trauma. It’s not ok. We have to invest in our children and their education NOOR: How is this affecting your community? HARDY: I live in the Wilson Park Community community. 5 people were shot on Memorial Day. A young man was shot on Friday. A young man was shot 2 weeks ago and days after that his friend was stabbed up. Not to mention the countless armed robberies that are going unreported. It;s our children, and I hate to say it like that, but if we don’t invest in them, if we don’t show them that we love them, they will continue down this road. We want to combat the violence, we have to invest in these children. THIS TRANSCRIPT WILL BE UPDATED