Comptroller Peter Franchot is practically Pavlov's answer to elected officials and the subject of air conditioning in public schools.
Over the last year or so, Franchot has challenged Baltimore County officials to find ways to air condition county schools under the auspices that the state provides much of the funding for school construction and renovation projects.
And he'll likely get another chance today when the Board of Public Works, of which he is a member, will be asked to approve $7 million in requests for school projects. The money comes from a bump earlier this year in the state's alcohol sales tax.
A group of parents has been trying to organize a contingent of students and others to appear in Annapolis at this morning's meeting to make their case for air-conditioned classrooms.
On the list for approval are seven schools all on the west side of the county including:
- Woodlawn and Franklin High Schools
- Cedarmere, Glyndon and Randallstown elementary schools
- Pikesville Middle School
- Chatsworth School
About $3.3 million is slated to go toward replacing windows at Woodlawn High School. The county notes in its request that 56 percent of the school's population is eligible for free or reduced-price lunches.
Other projects include window, blinds and door replacement, roof repairs and replacements, locker room renovations and replacement.
But no air conditioning. Franchot, in a letter to county officials earlier this year, asked the county to consider purchasing window units with the $7 million check.
The county says it will take as much as $450 million to put air conditioning in all county schools—money that it doesn't have in these tight economic times.
In the last few weeks, Franchot has turned up the heat on the issue traveling to Baltimore County on at least three occasions and having a meeting with County Executive Kevin Kamenetz in a Towson area restaurant.
Shortly there after, Franchot traveled to Stoneleigh Elementary. Kamenetz appeared on Midday with Dan Rodricks where he made some not so veiled comments about Franchot's call for air conditioned classrooms.