November 10, 2004
Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr.
Office of the Governor
Annapolis, MD 21401-1925
Dear Governor Ehrlich,
As citizens of Maryland, we believe that the education of the stateís children is one of our highest priorities and that this must be reflected in state school capital improvement funding. We applaud your efforts in funding the Thornton Commissionís initiatives and the State Board of Educationís high assessment goals. We understand the constraints of balancing the state budget and the many demands for limited dollars. However, we also believe that throughout the state, students should attend school in safe, secure, and modern facilities. We know that school facilities are integral to program delivery. Unfortunately, many schools are aging rapidly without adequate resources to repair and modernize them. Throughout the state, school enrollment is increasing and diversifying, and we need to plan quickly to provide capacity to accommodate this growth. In Montgomery County, as elsewhere, many of our school buildings are overcrowded and need expansion, without electrical capacity to use technology adequately and need modernization, do not have proper spaces for programs such as science labs, or just have a list of needed repairs to major systems. The complete list of needs is long, and relief for many students is years away.
In Montgomery County, our local leaders have invested in our school capital improvement program for years, and aggressively so in the last few years. Yet, when our county submits projects eligible for millions in state aid ($125.5 this year), we can receive only a fraction of our requests due to the limit on the total amount of State funding allocated for school construction. We do not believe that our countyís needs are any different or more important from other school districts in Maryland. We all have schools like Matsunaga Elementary School, which opened in 2001, and now has seventeen portables. The students there need an addition built immediately to increase core capacity, such as bathrooms, and for the new Northwest Elementary School #7 to be constructed by 2006. We all have a Richard Montgomery High School, originally built in 1942, in desperate need of modernization for health and safety issues, overcrowding, and to update the school for todayís high school programs. We all have schools that need replacement roofs or new heating and cooling systems. These projects will take State Aid to become a reality.
We believe it is imperative that you provide adequate funding for school construction for all children in Maryland. We urge you to consider additional revenue sources, such as increased bonding authority to achieve this goal.