Baltimore Education Coalition Urges the State to Continue Regular Allocation of Capital Funding for Critical City School Building Repairs
More than 100 school buildings are dependent on state funding to be safe and functional for tens of thousands of city children and teachers
BALTIMORE, MD-The Baltimore Education Coalition (BEC) is urging the State Interagency Committee on School Construction (IAC) to keep capital funding whole to address hazardous school building deficiencies that city students and teachers endure on a daily basis. James McHenry Elementary School, which desperately needs a new roof and significant repairs to ensure that the fire alarm and sprinkler systems are up to code, represents more than 100 schools in the city that depend on state capital funding to keep them safe and functional. To ensure these buildings meet at least minimal standards, the BEC is asking that the IAC maintain its current level of capital funding for Baltimore City schools this year - 11-12% of the total state capital budget for school construction. City Schools has averaged $38 million in state capital funding for school construction over the past 9 years.
BEC and the Transform Baltimore campaign worked with city and state lawmakers to pass House Bill 860 - Baltimore City School Construction and Revitalization Act of 2013 - to address Baltimore's deteriorating school facilities, the oldest in the state. While the Maryland Stadium Authority estimates that the bill's funding stream will generate nearly $1 billion in bond funding to rebuild or fully renovate up to 28 schools in City Schools' 21st Century Buildings program by 2020, more than 100 school buildings remain without guaranteed funding to make critical repairs and system replacements. This year, City Schools is asking for $86 million to complete capital projects in over 60 school buildings throughout the city.
"Hundreds of students, teachers, and parents are enthusiastically engaged in the design process for their new school," said Roxanne Allen, co-chair of BEC. "Until we have full funding to rebuild all city school buildings to modern standards, students and teachers need the state capital program to keep the heat on and roofs intact at their schools."
BEC seeks to bring clarity around how the 21st Century Buildings program is funded and why state capital funding must be maintained. Out of the $60 million that will be put aside annually for the Maryland Stadium Authority to leverage nearly $1 billion for the city school construction program, $40 million comes from local sources. To meet the local requirements, the city imposed a five-cent beverage container tax. Further, the agreement requires City Schools to double the funding level for building maintenance and close 26 school buildings to "right size" their inventory.
"People should understand the amount of local effort that is supporting the 21st Century Buildings program," said Bebe Verdery, Director of the ACLU's Education Reform Project. "The City and school system are upholding their end of the deal. It would be unfair for the state to requires significant additional resources from the City and school system, while reducing its own."
The state legislature rightfully chose to address a growing disparity in school facility conditions and opportunities statewide when it passed House Bill 860. If the IAC were to reduce state CIP funding for city school construction, it would be a step backwards that will ultimately undermine the potential and progress that children and teachers are making in Baltimore City.
ACLU of Maryland
Advocates for Children and Youth
Afya Public Charter School
Baltimore Curriculum Project
The Cathedral of the Incarnation
Child First Authority
City Neighbors Foundation Council
The Coalition of Baltimore Charter Schools
Community Law in Action
Comprehensive Housing Assistance, Inc. (CHAI)
Downtown Baltimore Family Alliance
Greater Homewood Community Corporation
League of Women Voters of Baltimore City
Maryland Education Coalition
Maryland Out of School Time
Mt. Washington Elementary/Middle
PTA Council of Baltimore
Reservoir Hill Improvement Council
Roland Park Elementary/Middle School Parents
School Social Workers in Maryland
Southwest Baltimore Charter School
Supporting Public Schools of Choice
About the Baltimore Education Coalition
The Coalition is a citywide linkage of more than 25 organizations working for excellent educational opportunities for children. Public schools, traditional and charter; after-school programs; education advocacy, education program and education professionals' organizations, along with religious institutions, are all members of the Baltimore Education Coalition.
About Transform Baltimore
The campaign to Transform Baltimore calls upon elected officials and decision-makers at the city, state, and federal levels to adopt and implement a funding plan to renovate and modernize every public school building in Baltimore City within ten years. Its member organizations include civic and community organizations, churches, and schools.