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Friday, January 21, 2005

Johnson requests money for school construction


For Immediate Release: January 21, 2005
Contact: John E. Erzen, 301-952-4131

County Executive Testifies Before Board of Public Works
ANNAPOLIS, MD – Prince George’s County Executive Jack Johnson testified before the Maryland Board of Public Works asking for additional funding for school construction.

Johnson was joined by State Senator Gloria Lawlah, Delegate Carolyn J.B. Howard and other members of the Prince George’s County Delegation, Board of Education Chair Beatrice Tignor, Ph.D., Schools CEO Andre Hornsby, Ph.D. and County Council Vice-Chair Tom Dernoga.

Johnson said during the past seven years, the county has built 17 new schools at a minimum cost of $100 million per high school and $30 million per middle and elementary school.

“We have plans to build four new high schools this year and we will renovate three additional ones,” Johnson said. “Those are our top priorities.”

The county has requested approximately $85 million from the state for capital improvements, but has received only $6.2 million.

Johnson said the county has done a lot on it’s own to make up the difference. The telephone tax has been raised $50 million per year, with 10 percent of that money being used for school construction.

Johnson is also very confident about the money the county will be able to obtain after visiting Wall Street later this year, saying that the county could receive upwards of $300 million for school construction.

Prince George’s County has the second largest school system in the state. Schools are already using 459 portable classrooms, the equivalent of 15 elementary schools. Due to increase enrollment, the Board of Education estimates needing an additional 5,000 seats by 2008. There are also 10 schools in need of a new roof and $1.3 billion in renovations that needs to be done.

Despite this, test scores in county schools are up across the board. Reading proficiency has risen 18 percent while math proficiency is up 16 percent. The improved test scores of the county’s third grade students are the highest in the state.

“I won’t predict what will happen this year, but I think it will be better than last year,” Hornsby said about the improved test scores.

Comment: After reading this carefully, I can't help wondering if the author is a product of our failing schools.

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