Baltimore, MD - As city students prepare for the end of the school year, the Transform Baltimore campaign has released a brief new video that highlights how high quality school facilities are bolstering college and career readiness, as well as academic achievement. Stories of Transformation: Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School is the latest installment of an online video series that profiles public school buildings that have been renovated with federal stimulus funds and the profound impact that these changes have on teaching and learning.
Visit the campaign YouTube channel to view the video, along with previously released videos profiling other city schools. Mergenthaler received $1.7 million to support its new allied health pathway, which prepares students for employment and higher education opportunities in the growing medical industry. The school district partnered with Good Samaritan Hospital to design a cutting edge health suite in a space that previously housed outdated industrial machinery. Upgrades include surgical and pharmacy tech labs, an interactive classroom, computers, and other modern amenities that simulate professional settings. The video captures the excitement around this renovation and its immediate impact on the Mergenthaler community.
The new health suite is a great example of the kind of facilities needed to provide excellent instruction for city students. Craig Rivers, principal of Mergenthaler, believes that a high-tech learning environment is critical to improving education and keeping high school students engaged. "Just think about the economy of the area and what the healthcare field means," said Rivers. "The new health suite gives our students an added opportunity and experience they wouldn't normally have."
Merganthaler, with its 20 unique Career and Technology Education (CTE) programs, boasts an 83.1% graduation rate, higher than the city average and on par with the state's rate of 82.8% (based on 4-year adjusted cohort figures). However, there are only approximately 6200 available slots for CTE programs in various city high schools, far less than the amount of student applications received by the city school district.
"We have big plans to expand CTE to accommodate more students, but we need funding. "Imagine how many more students will benefit from being enrolled in these exciting programs," explains Michael Thomas, City Schools' Director of Learning to Work.
In addition to ensuring that schools are functioning on a basic level, with proper ventilation, air-conditioning, and roofs that do not leak, the Transform Baltimore campaign also strongly supports City Schools' vision of expanded CTE opportunities. An estimated $2.8 billion is needed to overhaul every city school building, which includes CTE infrastructure upgrades.
The campaign is advocating for the first $1 billion to come through bond financing, supported by existing state and city capital dollars for school construction and a three-cent increase in the city's beverage container tax.
"All of Baltimore's students need this kind of school building upgrade to support their learning and help them prepare for college and today's job market," said Frank Patinella, Education Advocate for the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland. "Our city and state leaders should be inspired by what we've seen at Mergenthaler and must move quickly on a funding plan to ensure that all city school buildings are modern, healthy, and helping students succeed."