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Mayor Rawlings-Blake Says Bottle Tax Hike Will Benefit City Schools

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Baltimore City School building

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BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Embarrassing. That’s what the mayor called the conditions at many Baltimore schools. Now she wants to raise the city’s bottle tax to start immediate repairs.

Monique Griego has more on just how bad things are from parents and administrators.

Parents say while they’re happy the mayor is trying to fix things, they want to know what took so long.

Old AC units, dilapidated doors and a building that looks like an abandoned warehouse–this is what kids at Holabird Academy deal with every day.

“I think it’s long overdue,” said Clezel Farmer, parent. “Schools needed repairs years and years and years ago.”

Principal Anthony Ruby agrees. He gave WJZ a tour inside the school.

Ruby says teachers do their best to dress things up, but it’s hard to hide the outside.

“It takes away from what we’re able to do for the kids, but we do make things as beautiful as possible,” Ruby said.

Because so many Baltimore City schools look like this, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is making it her mission to improve things for kids by finding more funding for school construction.

“We are at a place where too many of our schools don’t have AC. Too many of our schools have clouded windows,” Rawlings-Blake said.

The mayor’s plan would raise the city’s bottle tax from 2 to 5 cents. She says it will raise $11 to 17 million and increase the city’s contribution to school construction by 140 percent.

And the mayor says there’s one thing she’s focused on when it comes to planning to improve city schools.

“That the proposals that we put in place will give us immediate results,” she said.

Parents and community groups have also been rallying for change. Angela Simonson’s daughter goes to Baltimore’s Freedom Academy.

“It’s awful. The bathrooms, the lockers, the smell and everything. It’s just horrendous,” Simonson said.

While parents and Ruby know upping taxes isn’t an easy choice, many feel Baltimore kids are being left behind.

“Their county cousins go to a nice new building. We don’t have that, and our kids deserve that,” Ruby said.

The mayor plans to introduce the city’s bottle tax hike sometime next week.

The mayor says the city is waiting to determine exactly how many schools need repairs and what it will cost.

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