House and Senate leaders held a press conference yesterday to announce the “Built to Learn Act” a proposal that will pump an additional $2.2 billion into school buildings and renovations. As reported by the Baltimore Sun,
“This is a very big deal, honestly and truly, I would tell you if it wasn’t,” said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, who was flanked by Democratic leaders at a now-closed elementary school in Prince George’s County.
The money would come from bonds issued by the Maryland Stadium Authority. The bonds would be paid back over 30 years using $125 million a year in casino revenues set aside in a so-called education “lockbox.”
Speaker Adrienne Jones previously announced school construction would be one of her priorities introduced as HB 1. The companion Senate legislation will be SB 1.
Jones said subpar school buildings contribute to achievement gaps in which poor and minority children don’t perform as well as richer and white peers. The Baltimore County Democrat said the boost in construction funding is “long overdue.”
“Every second we delay funding that will modernize school buildings, we deny our students an opportunity for a brighter future,” Jones said. “If we achieve nothing else as a General Assembly this term, we will uphold our commitment to making our schools the best in the nation.”
See additional coverage in Maryland Matters.