ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Governor Larry Hogan is directing Maryland's Superintendent of Schools and the Interagency Commission on School Construction to immediately assess ventilation and air filtration systems in all the state's public school buildings.
The directive came during Wednesday's Board of Public Works meeting, a day after 31 schools in Baltimore City dismissed early over a lack of air conditioning.
Hogan singled out the city and blasted their leadership for failing to fix the longstanding issues, despite his administration providing record funding over the last several years.
“We established a Healthy Schools Facilities Fund to provide additional state-funded grants to public schools specifically to make urgently needed emergency air conditioning and heating upgrades. Baltimore City returned the money to the state after failing to spend it on the improvements," said Hogan. “Our administration has provided seven years of record funding to our schools—all of our schools across the state and even more to Baltimore City schools. Among the 100 largest school systems in America, Baltimore is the third highest funded school system, which makes it even more inexcusable," Hogan continued.
The Governor added the problem has been exacerbated by COVID-19.
“Protecting students from the sweltering heat is critically important, and city leaders have continued to fail in this regard. But the problem goes far beyond that now because of COVID-19," said Hogan. "We have provided more than $3 billion in additional federal dollars in relief funding to the school systems in Maryland specifically for pandemic-related costs, including improvements to HVAC and ventilation, and filtration systems for safer school buildings for our kids. And yet, even with those billions of dollars to address these issues and with the school year already underway, city schools are still unairconditioned, and it’s unclear even which schools or school systems have properly utilized all these billions in funding."
Following the assessment, Hogan vowed to hold school systems statewide accountable for how that money was spent.
"District by district and school by school, and we will be holding school systems accountable for these financial resources and the way that they have been utilized to ensure that safe and healthy environments are in our school buildings for all of our kids,” Hogan concluded.
Hogan's announcement can be watched below.