A sweeping plan to invest $1.1 billion in building and replacing Baltimore's aging public schools won preliminary approval in the House Thursday, after delegates voted overwhelmingly to reject Republican efforts to put additional strings on state funding to be provided the city.
HB860, which was unveiled by legislative leaders only Monday, is expected to come up for a final House vote Friday. Given the lopsided nature of votes Thursday, the bill appears likely to pass easily. The Senate has yet to act.
Del. Susan W. Krebs of
But Del. John L. Bohanan Jr., chairman of the education subcommittee of the House appropriations committee, urged lawmakers to reject what he called "micromanagement" of the city's school plan. The city's schools are among the oldest in the state, he said, and some of the costliest to maintain. Under the plan, the city intends to close 26 schools and renovate or replace dozens of others.
Del. Pat McDonough of Baltimore and Harford counties praised the city school construction plan as "very creative," but then said he was worried that city residents wouldn't enjoy the economic benefits of the school system overhaul. He proposed requiring that all workers for school projects must prove their legal residence. His amendment falied, 42 to 88.
Finally, Del. Anthony J. O'Donnell, the House GOP leader from St. Mary's and Calvert counties, argued that Maryland taxpayers are effectively shouldering the risk of the overhaul plan through bonds the stadium authority would issue. He proposed a change requiring that legislative budget committees be given a chance to review any changes to the school construction plan.