"Begathon" For School Funds Is Annual Rite In Annapolis

By Maryland Senator Roy Dyson

It’s called the “Begathon.”

Every year, every county jurisdiction in the state (as well as Baltimore City) comes before the Board of Public Works made up of the governor, state treasurer and comptroller to ask for more funding for public schools.

The Interagency Committee on School Construction recommends 75 percent of the funding for FY 2008 for new and renovated schools.

State legislators, commissioners, superintendents, county commissioners and county executives make an effort to appear before the Board of Public Works to get their share of the rest of the 25 percent available.

I am proud to represent St. Mary’s, Calvert and Charles in the State Senate and have appeared at the “begathon” regularly since being elected to the Senate in 1994. This practice to make sure Southern Maryland gets its fair piece of the pie began under the administration of Governor William Donald Schaefer.

Governor O’Malley has pledged to spend $400 million in school construction and has called education his top priority. It is mine as well.

The IAC recommended $3,200,000 for the construction of a new and much-needed elementary school in St. Mary’s. The county school board and the delegation have asked for $5,352,000. I made a strong appeal for this funding as well as a request of $1,500,000 for an HVAC improvement at Greenview Knolls Elementary School.

During my presentation to the BPW, I also urged Governor O’Malley, Comptroller Peter Franchot and Treasurer Nancy Kopp about the alarming number of trailers – which Governor O’Malley has called “learning shacks” – in St. Mary’s County. I was pleased to hear him repeat the name for these trailers which the State Board of Education tries to politically correctly call them “relocatables” whatever that means. Incidentally, relocatables isn’t even a word in the dictionary! It was also nice to hear Treasurer Kopp indicate her concern about the unhealthy conditions of trailers which are more susceptible to mold, poor insulation and many other problems.

I was also able to stand up for Calvert County which requested $14,852,000 for six projects which include Barstow Elementary School, Calvert Middle School construction, renovation planning for Calvert High School, a fire alarm for Huntingtown Elementary School, a roof top unit for Mt. Harmony Elementary and a reproofing of Huntingtown Elementary School.

Because of my Education, Health and Environmental Affairs committee obligations during the day of the “begathon” I was unable to stand up for Charles. However, I fully support their requests and asked my colleague in Charles, Senator Mac Middleton, to express this support for their various and much-needed project including $8,291,000 for a new elementary school and $4,559,000 for the Theodore G. Davis Middle School.

Related Story:

Md. Officials Lineup At Governor's Door for BPW Handouts, January 24, 2007

Military School Service Credit legislation

I have agreed to co-sponsor the “Military Service Credit” legislation. This bill would repeal the limitations and exceptions for members of the State Retirement and Pension System receiving credit for military service.

The bill provides numerous state employees who are retired military service personnel who will not receive Maryland’s military service credit because they retired while on regular or active duty. Conversely, their counterparts who retired from the Reserve or Guard will receive the military service credit.

Many of these state employees have served in combat and have distinguished record both in serve to our country and state.

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