Comptroller Peter Franchot visited Glen Burnie Park Elementary School on Thursday morning to tour the school and assess its needs, after the Maryland Board of Public Works approved more than $270,000 to help replace the school's roof.
The school, built in 1962, was renovated in 1992 and 2007, but the roof had been only patched together for repairs until it was replaced in 2012, according to Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS) spokesperson Bob Mosier.
"This is my favorite school system in the state," Franchot said once he walked in the doors at Glen Burnie Park Elementary. "It has a history of frugality."
Franchot's visit comes as the Anne Arundel County Council prepares for consideration of a more than $1 billion budget request from the Anne Arundel County Board of Education. Several council members expressed displeasure with the handling of school spending last year, and suggested it may have a negative effect on this year's budget.
When asked how the state can ensure students in the county are prioritized before political quarrels, Franchot said he hopes state interference won't be necessary.
"I have a lot of confidence in [Superintendent] Kevin Maxwell, and I'm sure that the County Council and all of the stakeholders involved can reach a good compromise," Franchot said. "I talk about Anne Arundel County all over the state as being a model for both providing good investment for kids and faculty, but also doing it in a way that honors the taxpayer."
The school system is pushing for an expansion to the school, which was approved by the Board of Public Works and faces final approval in the state's FY 2014 budget. The state is set to contribute $900,000 of the $2.6 million for the expansion, with the rest coming from the county, according to AACPS Chief Operating Officer Alex Szachnowicz.
Currently, the school fits 444 students in the facility meant for approximately 380 students. The four-room addition should free up space for 88 kids, and provide much-needed workspace for the teachers.
As Franchot toured the facilities, he saw firsthand the effect of an overcrowded school as a handful of students interacted with their teacher in a makeshift learning area in the middle of the hallway.
"It's very hard for me to get to a lot of my stuff because I don't have adequate storage space," said kindergarten teacher Suzanne Gerczynski. "If they want us to differentiate [in learning activities], then we need adequate space for the children to do different activities."
Franchot, who serves on the Board of Public Works along with Gov. Martin O'Malley and Treasurer Nancy Kopp, regularly tours projects throughout the state approved by the board.
Franchot's schedule for Thursday also included a stop at AmRestore, an equipment restoration business in Glen Burnie, and Café Mezzanote in Severna Park, according to a press release from the comptroller's office.
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