Over the past several years, Baltimore County has made steady progress as it seeks to air condition all its public schools. Despite limited funding, the county is on track to reduce the number of schools without air conditioning from 54 percent in 2010 to 36 percent within two years.
Unfortunately, that progress is not shared uniformly throughout Baltimore County. There is a significant disparity between the western, northern, and eastern parts of the county.
Looking at schools by County Council district, after the current round of air conditioning, the number of non-air conditioned schools will stand at 28 percent in the First District (Catonsville); 19 percent in the Second District (Pikesville and Reisterstown); 20 percent in the Third District (Cockeysville); and 18 percent in the Fourth District (Randallstown).
In the Fifth District that I represent, 35 percent of schools will still need air conditioning. The number is 40 percent in the Sixth District, which stretches from Parkville to Middle River, and 36 percent in the Seventh District, based in Dundalk.
When County Councilwoman Cathy Bevins and I wrote to the school system, the response from the Director of Physical Facilities indicated that "the final selection of projects is based upon several factors, including geographical parity." The current list for immediate funding excludes nearly every school in Loch Raven, Carney, Parkville, Perry Hall, and Kingsville. I don't know how this reflects geographical parity.
You can see the geographic imbalance on the attached map, where red dots represent schools not immediately programmed for air conditioning.
I am grateful that Seven Oaks Elementary School in Perry Hall will receive air conditioning through an energy grant. But Joppa View Elementary School, built within one year, ranks dead last among elementary schools, even though it would presumably be less expensive to retrofit due to its age.
I am urging the school system to reevaluate this list so that it better reflects geographic equity. Students in Loch Raven, Carney, Parkville, Perry Hall, and Kingsville deserve the same access to air conditioning as those in western and northern Baltimore County.