Reporting Gigi Barnett
BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Days after Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake rolled out a plan to boost construction dollars to city schools, one grassroots group is backing the proposal.
As Gigi Barnett reports, members say the next step is to get private businesses in on the plan.
Baltimore’s crumbling, cash-strapped schools need a big boost of construction dollars.
It’s a concern Mayor Rawlings-Blake addressed in her State of the City speech earlier this week.
“Too many of our schools have non-potable water. We need to do better,” she said.
Her plan: The Better Schools Initiative by boosting Baltimore’s bottle tax from two to five cents. The city says it will raise millions and increase its school construction budget by 140 percent.
More money for school construction is an answered prayer for this group. They’re members of Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (BUILD), a grassroots group that called on the mayor Thursday to stick to her plan despite the opposition.
“We need her to stand clearly with us on this issue. This bottle tax will be a reality because we’ll push to make it so,” Bishop Douglas Miles, BUILD co-chair, said.
“I have to ask myself, what value has this city placed on my children,” Arica Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez is a parent and member of BUILD. She says repairing busted doors, replacing windows and installing central heating and air are long overdue.
“I feel as a parent that there is some sort of failure on the part of the city,” she said.
That’s why BUILD says Baltimore will raise more cash faster if it draws private businesses to the table.
“If we come together as citizens, we will be successful in seeing the business community begin to see the children of Baltimore as a priority,” Andrew Foster Connors, BUILD co-chair, said.
Baltimore schools need nearly $3 billion to repair or rebuild all of its buildings.