March 24, 2017
Politics & Opinion
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A School For The Future

Peter Franchot
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March 8, 2017

In my 10 years as comptroller, I have been a proud advocate of school facilities that are safe, healthy and equipped with technological resources to help train the next generation of Maryland’s leaders in business, government and the nonprofit sector. As a member of the Board of Public Works, I have voted for $2.3 billion in state funding to support school construction projects, because a strong public education system is the greatest investment we can make for our future.

During a recent visit to Anne Arundel County, I stopped by the new Severna Park High School to join Superintendent George Arlotto and other school system officials for a tour of this beautiful and long-overdue complex. This sensational campus is the result of the hard work and advocacy of so many parents, students, teachers and community leaders who rallied together to ensure that they had a high school facility they needed and deserved.

Four years ago, parents and school advocates wrote to me asking for help to build a replacement for the 55-year-old aging relic that was not just antiquated but also dangerous. On a visit to the old building with county officials and legislators, I saw holes in the auditorium walls, loose electrical fixtures, and too few thermostats to control the temperature throughout the school. By any measure, the existing structure simply was inadequate. While the school may have been one of the highest performing (to the credit of hardworking teachers and students), it was apparent that the old building was not a suitable learning environment for Severna Park students. Less than 24 hours after my visit, the Interagency Committee on School Construction (IAC) recommended $2.8 million toward the new school.

With its striking architecture, the gorgeous new high school — the county’s first new high school facility in more than 30 years — can accommodate 2,141 students and has more than 100 classrooms, a gymnasium twice the size of the previous one, an auditorium with a black-box theater, a TV studio, dance and music studios and a modern media center. The state’s contribution of $42 million for this $134 million project was money well spent for a state-of-the-art facility that will serve the community for many years and be a model for other school systems with its open floor plan that emphasizes student safety and energy efficient design features that will save money in the long run.

The new Severna Park High School is truly an exceptional facility, and I have no doubt that it will continue to graduate some of the best and brightest students in our state. In the years ahead, I will continue to work in a bipartisan fashion to ensure that all school systems have facilities that meet the needs of their students, teachers and communities, while ensuring that the taxpayers’ hard-earned money is being invested in worthwhile projects that make our state stronger.


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