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Committee Approves Waiver To Install AC at 12 Baltimore Co. Schools

TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) -- A big step in the heated battle over air conditioning in Baltimore County schools. A state committee is allowing air conditioning bids to go out Thursday night, which would put AC units in more schools by this time next year.

Relief from the heat is being fast-tracked for 12 Baltimore County schools without air conditioning. That can't come soon enough for fed up parents.

"My daughter, so many times, she gets sick and she has to do her work in the office," said Meherum Hossain, parent.

"It's better than nothing, but it's certainly not what we proposed and not what we would like to see," said Governor Larry Hogan.

After their kids missed four school days this year, many parents have been steaming.

"These schools are like greenhouses now. We cannot have children sitting in a hot car scenario," said parent Lily Rowe.

They put pressure on County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, who wrote a letter asking for a waiver from the state to allow bidding to start for air conditioning installation right now--months before the state spending board gives its final approval.

In a rare move, a committee granted that approval.

"Once they do give us money, we don't have to wait, we can hit the ground running and get the job done even sooner," said Kamenetz.

It means 12 schools will have air conditioning sooner--including Kenwood and Franklin High.

Five middle schools--Arbutus, Middle River, Stemmers Run, Golden Ring and Southwest Academy--and five elementary schools--Reisterstown, Charlesmont, Orems, Church Lane and Battle Grove--will get air conditioning by next year.

"It's making a decision on what's best for our children, and if we can expedite this process for air conditioning to be finished in the Baltimore County area, then I think we should do that," said Dr. Karen Salmon, State Superintendent of Schools.

Some say the bigger issue is not in the county, but in Baltimore City. There is still a lengthy list of 76 city schools buildings without air conditioning. It should be down to 66 by the end of this school year.

"We dole out hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars in school construction money to the local governments, and they seem to be very unresponsive to concerns about the welfare of some of their students," said Gov. Hogan.

County Executive Kamenetz notes that he inherited this problem. He says he is working hard to fix it, but has rejected calls to put portable air conditioning units in, saying that would be a waste of money.

Installing air conditioning in each school will cost between $6 million and $10 million.

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