SEPTEMBER 11, 2015
LETTER TO CONSTITUENTS – SUMMER HEAT
During the many years I taught mathematics in the Baltimore County School System, school closures, due to heat were neither an issue nor a problem. When the summer heat reached a specified level school pupils were dismissed.
Today, Baltimore County schools’ response to that same situation is quite different. On Tuesday, September 8 when the temperature in some classrooms reached 100 degrees the decision was finally made to close the schools early. Yet, on Thursday and Friday of the previous week, schools remained open despite temperatures soaring to nearly the same levels as on September 8th. This makes no sense and is entirely unacceptable.
As a former teacher, I can assure you that the ability to learn dissipates rapidly as the temperature rises. Equally important, high temperatures threaten the health of many students, teachers and school staff, especially those who have medical conditions affected adversely by heat. All too often we hear or see public service announcements warning people of the health risks associated with exposure to excessive heat.
Something has changed over the years in the manner in which the Baltimore County School Systems responds to closing schools during excessive heat. The reason for the change can be found in the increase in holidays, professional study days which cause the school year to begin earlier and often end later. Unfortunately the State Board of Education is not as flexile regarding forgiving school days lost to snow and heat. Last, but not least, the Baltimore County School Board has no specific closure policies regarding excessive heat.
As parents, grandparents, friends or relatives of school age children or involved constituents who want to bring your voice to bear on this issue, I suggest that you:
- Contact the Baltimore County School Board and insist that the Board adopt school closing procedures for days of excessive heat. The adoption of a stated closing policy will enable families to plan ahead on picking children up from school, getting baby sitters, etc. In addition, you can request that the System investigate the cost effectiveness of installing window air conditioners or free standing units in schools without air conditioning.
Chairman-David Uhlfelder firstname.lastname@example.org
Kathleen Causey email@example.com
- Contact your state representatives in Annapolis – State Senators and Delegates and urge them to work to impress upon the State Board of Education the importance of more flexibility, regarding forgiving school days lost due to snow and heat. It should be emphasized that extending the school year in June increases the chance of high temperatures becoming a problem. Your state representatives are:
Senator Jim Brochin: James.Brochin@senate.state.md.us
Senator J.B. Jennings: JB.Jennings@senate.state.md.us
Delegate Rick Impalleria: Rick.Impallaria@house.state.md.us
Delegate Kathy Szeliga: Kathy.Szeliga@house.state.md.us
Delegate Chris West: firstname.lastname@example.org
It is imperative that all schools in Baltimore County be air conditioned. As you are probably aware, the State of Maryland is a partner in this effort. I strongly agree with many others who believe the state should appropriate a larger share of school construction and remodeling funds to Baltimore County.
The State Board of Public Works must be brought to understand that Baltimore County is different from other counties in that it has the second oldest school inventory in the State. This should be an important factor in determining the State appropriation of school construction and remodeling funds for Baltimore County.
I urge you to contact the members of the Maryland Board of Public Works and urge them to appropriate a larger percentage of school construction and remodeling funds to Baltimore County because if its unique need.
The Board of Public Works members are:
Governor Larry Hogan: 410-974-3901
Comptroller Peter Franchot: email@example.com
Treasurer Nancy Kopp: firstname.lastname@example.org
I welcome and would appreciate your help in this very important endeavor. I believe that the voice of the people counts.