Kamenetz’s Neglect of Lansdowne High

Students in 17 local school systems were denied classroom instruction on Friday so that the Maryland State Education Association could hold their taxpayer-funded political rally for Democratic gubernatorial candidates, an event where the rank display of bigotry of the union was on full display. However, there is one other point that needs to be made from the convention; Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz reportedly accused Governor Hogan of “gutting schools.”

Set aside the sheer absurdity of the comment, it represents a candidate painfully unaware of his own vulnerabilities on the education front—school construction in particular.

We are all aware that it was Governor Hogan who pressured Kamenetz into accelerating funding to install air conditioning at a faster pace.  There are still 13 Baltimore County schools with thousands of students who do not have air conditioning.   The majority of those schools are located in areas that did not support his two runs for County Executive.

However, the condition of Lansdowne High School is another example of Kamenetz’s malignant neglect.

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During last Wednesday’s “begathon” at the Board of Public Works, Baltimore County schools’ representatives left the room, as several members of the Lansdowne community, including a teacher and several parents, testified to the decrepit conditions of Lansdowne High School.

That these officials—including a Kamenetz’s lobbyist—would leave the room is not surprising.  Parents and community advocates laid bare, in very stark terms, to the state’s chief fiscal officers, the deplorable conditions for which they—including Kamenetz—are responsible.

“I shouldn’t have to feel like I failed as a parent, sending my kids to receive a fair public education, when they’re sweating in there,” said Dayana Bergman, a Lansdowne High advocate whose child will be a freshman there next year. “And I don’t know the long term health effects that this has impacted on my children…”

Bergman said that when the superintendent and her staff left the room, she followed them and asked them to come back inside.

“I asked our school district to please come back in here,” Bergman said. “Please don’t walk away from us.”

Here’s a sample of the egregious state of Lansdowne High School, courtesy of the Lansdowne needs a New High School Facebook page.

Kamenetz, who controls the purse strings for Baltimore County schools, has refused to consider a replacement building for Lansdowne, instead proposing a renovation of the existing building.

The community has rightly rejected that plan as insufficient.  A recent facilities survey of Baltimore County Schools ranked Lansdowne last among the county’s high schools, scoring a 1.74 out of 5.  And… it recommends demolishing and replacing the school.

Lansdowne is the community with the most dire need of a new school.  The idea of a “limited renovation” isn’t so much a joke, as it is a slap in the face to the hardworking parents and students, who persevere despite facing deplorable conditions such as unsafe drinking water, no air-conditioning, sinking floors, leaking roofs and ceilings.

Time and again,  Kevin Kamenetz guts the hopes of parents who simply seek a safe learning environment for their children.

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