The following letter was sent on September 13th from representatives of District 13:

Dear Chairwoman Mavis Ellis and Members of the Howard County Board of Education,

The undersigned, Senator Guzzone, Delegate Atterbeary, Delegate Pendergrass, and Delegate Terrasa respectfully request that you reject Dr. Martirano’s recent proposal to defer action on the replacement of Talbott Springs Elementary School and and the renovation and expansion of Hammond High School.

For far too long, students, teachers, and administrators at these two schools have struggled with aging and outdated conditions: portable classrooms, partial walls, leaks from the roof, mold, along with a series of other disruptions imposed by these inadequate and aging facilities. We have worked with members of the community who have advocated for years for these concerns to be addressed, only to have these critical projects delayed time and time again.

In 2018, we urged, along with former Delegate Frank Turner, the Interagency Commission on School Construction (IAC) to help fund a new Talbott Springs Elementary School. After a hard fought battle, the IAC agreed to funding for a replacement of Talbott Springs after being shown that replacing the school rather than renovating it would “be a less costly option to construct and maintain over the life of the facility.” Similar efforts by members of the Hammond Community, as well as state and local officials who represent them, were made with regard to the much-needed renovation and addition for Hammond High School. The result of these efforts was the promise that these projects would receive funding in FY2021 and would be ready for occupancy in 2022 and 2023.

Now, just as community members believed that years of effort were about to make the dream of new and modernized schools a reality for a severely underserved population, Dr. Martirano has not included a request for funding for these critical projects in his FY2021 proposed budget and the long range master plan calls for 2026 and 2027 occupancy.

Pushing the replacement of Talbott Springs off until 2027, and renovation of Hammond until 2026, is unacceptable. We have had the opportunity to serve the Talbott Springs and Hammond Communities for many years in the state legislature (and some of us while on the county council) and we have toured their schools on numerous occasions, engaging with parents who want and deserve better for their children. As we are discussing redistricting and our commitment to equity, it is especially disturbing to see the proposed postponement of the much needed and long-awaited projects at two relatively high FARM schools. The families in these communities deserve equitable treatment and for promises to be kept.

We request that you do everything you possibly can to move forward with these projects in the time frame described in the September 5th report. These projects need to remain on track to reassure the students, teachers, administrators, parents and community members that their school is no less valued than any other in Howard County; and, that their many years of advocacy have not been wasted.

Sincerely,

Guy Guzzone, Senator, District 13

Vanessa Atterbeary, Delegate, District 13

Shane Pendergrass, Delegate, District 13

Jen Terrasa, Delegate, District 13

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As someone that lives in District 13…I could not be more proud of this letter sent to the school system. I know my kid is all kind of old (20) and graduated now…but it is still great to see our representatives looking out for residents with kids in the school system locally.

Good job on this on TEAM 13!!! Keep it up and do not let this fall through the cracks…this area depends on your leadership.

Scott E