January 04, 2018

Van Hollen Continues to Push for Resolution to Heating Issue in Baltimore Schools

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen and Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh have discussed the emergency actions that the Mayor has been taking to address the Baltimore City schools hearing crisis, and he has commended her on those efforts. The Senator also wrote to Baltimore City Schools CEO Dr. Sonja Brookins Santelises today to urge her to take all actions within her power to restore heat to the schools without delay. As Mayor Pugh has noted, the school system and the State have the immediate responsibility to make repairs and restore safe learning environments.

The full text of the letter is available here and below.

Dear Dr. Santelises,

I am writing about the alarming situation with respect to inadequate heat in some of the Baltimore City schools. I know that we are all concerned about this urgent matter.

Yesterday, I wrote to Mayor Pugh and Governor Hogan to share my concern with them. I appreciate that Mayor Pugh immediately responded that she was doing everything in her power to address the situation, both mobilizing city resources to fix water main breaks and opening recreation centers to provide shelter and food for students while schools are closed. But she made the very important point that the jurisdictional responsibility to provide safe learning environments lies with the school system and the State.

We are all aware of the significant challenges the school system faces with aging buildings, and I am working at the federal level to provide a robust funding stream for school construction. This should be part of any national infrastructure package. Schools across the nation, as in Baltimore, are overdue for repairs and renovation. I would also welcome the opportunity to work with you, the City and, the State to identity other additional resources.

As we work to confront the long term challenges, we must act urgently to address the immediate crisis. I urge you to take all actions necessary to immediately restore heat to the schools. I also ask that in order to ensure that maintenance and renovation dollars are being spent effectively, you review the use and prioritization of funds.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this urgent issue. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of assistance in any way.