Mardela Community Asks Executive To Restore School Renovation Fu - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Mardela Community Asks Executive To Restore School Renovation Funding

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MARDELA SPRINGS, Md. - At Tuesday night's Wicomico County budget hearing, Mardela community members gave emotional testimony to advocate for the middle and high school renovation funding to be restored by the county executive. 

County Executive Bob Culver presented his budget in March, announcing he would fully fund $800,000 over the maintenance of effort to support Superintendent Donna Hanlin's initiatives.  The funding would be used to increase teacher's salaries and start universal pre-kindergarten. 

But the Mardela community was unaware that the generous funding would come at a cost to their capital request.  

"Over a month ago, I praised him.  But tonight, I'm not praising him," Wicomico Board of Education President Don Fitzgerald said. "I know the money's there."

Mardela teachers, parents, students and principal Liza Hastings say the school is in desperate need of repairs.  Many say there is a lack of space for students with nine portable classrooms, there is HVAC issues and the resources are outdated. 

"Our facilities department is at our school regularly to address failed heating or air conditioning," Principal Hastings said. 

"Our students come to school every day and they have to work against things to get an education. What kind of county provides that?" Mardela Teacher Kara Brown added. 

Despite Tuesday's hearing being hosted by the county council, most of the questions and remarks were directed solely at Culver. He said the millions of dollars the county would need to fund the renovations were too big to fulfill right now. 

"What you need is a new damn school, a whole school. Not this renovation, but you don't have the room where you are," Culver said. 

Culver says this funding request is especially difficult because of state decisions to minimum wage and the Kirwan Commission.  He apologized for the lack of transparency in this decision. 

"I owe each one of you an apology because I didn't get out to your area to tell you what we were looking at doing and I'm sorry for that," Culver said. 

Culver suggested that money being postponed to repair another school's roof this year could be used to get the ball rolling on Mardela.  The roof repair funding would not be enough to cover the request, but it would be a start. 

Culver said he will try to work with the council and board of education to make that idea happen. 

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