Md. approves $131 million more for state's public schools next year

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Maryland state officials announced millions of dollars in additional funding for public schools Wednesday.

Gov. Martin O'Malley, Comptroller Peter Franchot, Treasurer Nancy Kopp and members of the Board of Public Works said an additional $131.3 million in unallocated funding will be budgeted for the Maryland public school system for FY2015, bringing the total amount budgeted for schools to $323.5 million.

In a statement Wednesday, the office of the comptroller said the additional funds were largely recommended by the Interagency Committee for School Construction (IAC), and that he agreed with the recommendation after touring eight "high-priority" schools across the state to observe conditions.

"The tours enabled the comptroller to hear directly from the teachers, students, staff and county school representatives about what was needed to make their schools better suited for continuing the pursuit of high academic standards for the students," Franchot's office's statement indicated.

Five of the aging schools Franchot toured were located in the D.C. Metro area - Severna Park High in Anne Arundel County, North Frederick Elementary in Frederick County, Bradley Hills Elementary in Montgomery County,{ }Glenarden Woods Elementary in Prince George's County and Potomac High in Prince Georges County.

“While education experts continue to rank the Maryland public school system number one in the country, we can’t afford to have our students fall behind in their education because of substandard learning conditions,” Franchot said.

“As a state, we owe it to our future generations to provide a safe and healthy learning environment where they can thrive and become the best people they can be," he continued. "If that means providing money to renovate a school, replace a school or simply upgrade the lighting and other features, we need to make every effort to do it."

The statement explained that, in February, the board approved $187.5 million in initial funding for school construction.

"After the initial funds were distributed, representatives from 21 jurisdictions came before the board to address the need for shares of the additional $131.3 million remaining in the school construction budget," the statement said.