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City Schools Pay $14M For Overtime; Parents Demand Close Monitoring Of Funds

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BALTIMORE (WJZ)– The cash-strapped Baltimore school system is forking out millions of dollars in overtime each year, and there is anger about some of the people making the money.

Weijia Jiang with more on this cash controversy.

Parents say they are upset because the person who took home the most overtime is not an educator, and they say the position should be slashed altogether.

The buildings are crumbling.

“There’s rats running around. It’s 90 degrees in some classrooms,” said one person.

The city says there’s not enough money to fix Baltimore schools. But there was more than $14 million in the education budget to pay for overtime in the past four years.

“Very angry as a parent in Baltimore City Schools. I don’t think it makes any sense,” Eve Bryant said.

The mayor– who’s under fire after proposing to raise the bottle tax for school funding– only had this to say about the overtime:

“No, I have not had a time to look at that yet.”

The bulk of the money went to pay the school police force.

A spokesperson says overtime is necessary because 1,600 full-time employees have left since 2008.

The teachers’ union says that’s the problem.

“If we’re paying this kind of overtime, we should reconsider these jobs were necessary,” Marietta English of the Baltimore Teachers’ Union said.

So who took home the most extra cash? It wasn’t schools’ CEO Dr. Andres Alonso. It was his personal driver whose salary doubled last year.

Sgt. Ralph Askins earned more than the governor and the same as the mayor. Two years before that, he made a total of more than $200,000 in overtime alone.

“People are not monitoring what we spend. That’s why we are in a hole after hole financially,” Kachobe Lassite, a Baltimroe parent, said.

Parents are even more outraged because Alonso gets $750 a month for transportation costs.

A superintendent having a driver is a rare bonus. During a 30-year stint as the head of state schools, Nancy Grasmick almost always drove herself.

“Dr. Alonso has been here for a number of years now. He knows his way around the city,” Jimmy Gittings of the Baltimore Administrators Union said.

WJZ wanted to hash all of this out with the school system and talk about the numbers, but the spokesperson denied our request for an interview. She did say the amount of overtime has steadily decreased over the past several years.

School leaders do not believe overtime is being abused. They say they examine the costs carefully.

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