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Schoolyard Brawl Between Governor, Comptroller and Baltimore County Executive

John Lee

Baltimore County’s leaders came under withering fire Wednesday from the Governor and State Comptroller over the lack of air conditioning in some of the county’s schools. 

But the County Executive fired right back.

At a Board of Public Works meeting Governor Larry Hogan called it a disgraceful and unacceptable situation: 52 schools in Baltimore County that either have no air conditioning or are only partly air conditioned.

Comptroller Peter Franchot described classrooms as inhumane, unsafe and unhealthy. He said he met recently with some teachers and parents from Kenwood High School in Essex who told horrifying stories.

"Students said that they frequently feel dizzy or faint and suffer from migraines and painful headaches," Franchot said. "Ninety eight degree temperatures in the classrooms."

Franchot said it’s not a question of money. He said Baltimore County received $27 million from the state for repairs in the past six years and chose to use only a small fraction on air conditioning.

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz fired back at an afternoon news conference. He said that even though the county is dealing with rising enrollment and aging buildings it has reduced the percentage of buildings without air conditioning. In 2010, 52 percent of county schools had no air conditioning. It now stands at 15 percent.

Also, Kamenetz said, the state usually matches localities dollar for dollar on school spending, but that hasn’t been the case in Baltimore County. While the county plans to spend $900 million on school construction over 10 years, the state is kicking in less than half that amount, $400 million.

"I humbly ask Governor Hogan and Comptroller Franchot to please get us more state dollars so we can get these percentages resolved even faster, " Kamenetz said.

Franchot and the Governor have summoned Kamenetz to next month’s public works meeting to answer questions about school air conditioning. Kamenetz would not commit to showing up saying he had not yet received the invitation. But he invited the Governor to meet with him in his office.