Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Annapolis Schools Funding Update

This afternoon the County Council took up amendments to the Fiscal Year 2010 budget. I am thrilled to report that the County Council unanimously delivered a huge victory for Annapolis schools.

1. Bates Performing and Visual Arts (PVA) Magnet Program

The County Council restored $800,000 to fully implement the Arts Magnet at Bates this Fall. The County Executive's proposed budget had eliminated this funding which the Board of Education had proposed.

2. Germantown Elementary and Annapolis Elementary Construction Projects

The County Council took no action on the County Auditor's recommendation to close Annapolis Elementary and combine its students into a new mega-elementary school complex at Germantown. Both County Executive Leopold and the Board of Education strongly supported keeping the two schools separate. The County Council's support for the Board of Ed's recommendation effectively assures that the new Germantown project will continue as planned with construction of the new school starting next year. Annapolis Elementary will also remain as a stand-alone revitalization project with design slated for FY 2012 and construction to begin in FY 2013.

I have no doubt that these budget votes would have been different without the tremendous outpouring of support from the community. I thank the parents and students who came out for impromptu rallies, waited long hours to testify at public hearings, and otherwise made their voices heard. The community's voice does make a difference.

The final vote on the amended budget is next week so it's not over yet, but the heavy lifting took place today. I am grateful for the bipartisan support of my colleagues on the County Council during this very difficult budget season. I am also grateful for the personal involvement of House Speaker Mike Busch and the Annapolis City Council, especially Alderwoman Sheila Finlayson and Alderman Fred Paone, all of whom went the extra mile to convey the importance of these votes to Annapolis families.