Reporting Gigi Barnett
BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Broken doors, hot classrooms and cracked floors. It’s what Baltimore teachers and students say they deal with everyday. But the city’s proposed bottle tax increase could change that.
Gigi Barnett explains students plan to take their requests to lawmakers in Annapolis.
On an unseasonable warm winter day at Patterson High School in Southeast Baltimore, the cooling system is just one problem with the 50-year-old building.
“It’s hot in here, there’s only one window that works and half of these classrooms are beat-up– a mess,” Asjuanae Duboyce, a Patterson High student, said.
Students rolled out their plan to rally city and state lawmakers in Annapolis on Monday, asking them to support a proposed bottle tax hike from two to five cents. That would boost Baltimore’s school construction budget by 140 percent.
Some council members are all for it.
“I challenge the Taxation and Finance Committee to come out here and walk through this school, stand in these classrooms, see what these students have to go through,” Baltimore City Councilman Edward Reisinger said.
“In the state of Maryland, Baltimore has some of the oldest set of buildings,” Terrell Williams, a member of Baltimoreans United In Leadership Development (BUILD), said.
Williams is with one of the groups pushing for new schools. He’s also a teacher and says the next step is changing state law to allow the city more control over its school construction budget.
“What we are advocating is that you give us the block $32 million. You give it to us and let us take that money and leverage it, and borrow $400 million,” Williams said.
With that added cash, supporters of the bottle tax say Baltimore can fix all of its crumbling school buildings at once instead of piecemealing it over a number of years.
Baltimore needs nearly $3 billion to repair or rebuild all of its schools.