Montgomery County has a new ally in its fight for more school construction money.
Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for the governor’s race, is backing the executives of Montgomery, Prince George’s and Baltimore counties in their push to create a program for funding school construction.
In a statement Friday, Gansler said the portable classrooms, leaky roofs and inadequate bathrooms cited as issues at many aging schools are not hallmarks of the best education system in the nation, but rather symbols of a system that serves some and not others.
Maryland was previously ranked no. 1 in education by Education Week, but this year that publication changed its system from a ranking to a grade and Maryland fell below seven other states.
“With the endless stream of gambling revenue that the administration promised will fund our schools, we should fully expect Lt. Gov. [Anthony] Brown to submit this as one of the signature pieces of legislation for the administration this session,” Gansler said.
Gansler, Brown and Del. Heather Mizeur are all running for governor this year and will face each other in the June 24 Democratic primary.
In his letter of support to the county executives, Gansler called the proposal “fiscally responsible.”
“Your proposal enables the state to support county-led efforts, at primarily county expense, to obtain construction bonds that will go directly to schools and not be diverted to projects for special interests,” he wrote. “This investment of state resources will be repaid tenfold in the increased success of our students.”
County Executive Isiah Leggett said existing state funding for school construction in Montgomery goes to cover the ever-increasing enrollment at Montgomery County Public Schools.
About 2,000 new students enroll each year, he said.
Montgomery County’s priority this session is having the state establish a steady, predictable stream of money to leverage borrowing for school construction.