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Baltimore Fishbowl: After Years of Pressure From Parents, County Agrees to Replace Dulaney High Scho

Following multiple calls to replace Dulaney High School in Timonium, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz agreed to set aside funding for a new school in 2019, according to several reports.

In a letter to Interim Superintendent Verletta White, Kamenetz committed to building a new school that would accommodate 2,300 students in the central corridor. Projections suggest there is a need for 1,000 more seats, he wrote.

As far back as 2014, The Sun‘s Liz Bowie detailed stories of burst pipes, rusted sinks and the lack of air conditioning in the majority of classrooms. Most of the $1.1 billion earmarked at the time for repairing and replacing facilities was being used to keep up with growing enrollment.

Parents of students at Dulaney and other county high schools balked at a 2016 plan to use between $32 million and $45 million at each school for renovations, saying the buildings should instead be replaced. (Full disclosure: This writer is a Dulaney alum).

With new schools costing at least $100 million, Kamenetz told The Sun at the time, “We can’t afford to do that and everything else.”

Last year, when Kamenetz put $40 million into his 2018 budget for renovations at Dulaney, parents again pressed for new construction. They instead got nothing, as the money was funneled to other school projects, The Sun reported at the time.

“We’ve been talking to the Dulaney parents for two years, and they were well aware of the facts,” Kamenetz told the paper’s Pamela Wood at the time. “The facts are that we would love to build a brand-new school, but this is not a school where we would be adding seats, so it’s not like we’re gaining capacity for that substantial investment.”

In September of last year, Comptroller Peter Franchot toured Dulaney and pledged a new building as parents took him on a tour of places where the 1960s-era structure was failing.

The subject of school conditions, particularly heating and air conditioning, has been a sticking point in recent years for the Maryland Board of Public Works, which counts Franchot, Gov. Larry Hogan and Treasurer Nancy Kopp as its members.

At the height of the dispute in 2016, the board threatened to freeze money for Baltimore County and Baltimore City if those jurisdictions did not install air conditioning units in classrooms. The county agreed to forward fund $45 million to install air conditioning in all schools by August 2018, but not without Kamenetz saying the withheld funds were a “ransom so that we would capitulate.”

“It’s ridiculous that we have to advance the state’s share of funding to do the job right in the first place,” he told The Washington Post.

Flash forward to the current election cycle, and Kamenetz is one of the Democrats running in the primary to unseat Hogan.

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