Gov. Larry Hogan is directing Maryland’s superintendent of schools and the Interagency Commission on School Construction to assess ventilation and air filtration in Maryland public school buildings.
Hogan made the announcement Wednesday at a meeting of the Board of Public Works.
He said he wants a report on ventilation and air filtration systems listed by district and school.
Hogan said that the state has provided more than $3 billion in additional federal 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.
“Yet, even with those billions of dollars to address these issues, and with the school year already underway, city schools are still un-air conditioned, and it’s unclear even which schools or school systems have properly utilized all these billions in funding.”
He added, “After months of requesting this information, we’re no longer asking. 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.”
State Treasurer Nancy Kopp said that the funding was working and that many schools in the area have been updating their ventilation systems.
“Since you signed off on a plan in 2017, almost all of the schools in Baltimore County, and about 55 out of the 76 schools in Baltimore City, now have appropriate air conditioning and heating,” Kopp said to Hogan. “There still are some to go, but of course, the five years isn’t over yet either. ”
In his announcement, Hogan said that on Tuesday, 31 schools in Baltimore dismissed students early due to a lack of proper air conditioning.
Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott said that since the funding was made available, the number of schools without air conditioning in the city went from 75 to 21.
“So what I would hope that they both do is put the partisan dog whistles back in their pocket and focus on what they voted for — and that’s the plan that the school system has,” Scott said.
In an emailed statement, the school system said, “Baltimore City Public Schools is successfully implementing the air conditioning plan approved by Gov. Larry Hogan in 2017. The plan calls for all school buildings to be air conditioned by the 2022-2023 school year, depending on approvals and the availability of state funding. City Schools is on track to meet that goal. There would be no plan and five-year timeline if the governor did not approve it first, yet he continually denies his role.”