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Grassroots Group Protests Mayor’s Proposed Cuts To After-School Programs

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BUILD protest after school
Derek Valcourt 370x278 Derek Valcourt
Derek Valcourt began working at WJZ in September 2002. His first major...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Hundreds of parents, students and community activists gathered outside of the Convention Center Thursday. They’re angry with Baltimore’s mayor over proposed cuts to after-school programs.

Derek Valcourt has more on the protest and the message this group is trying to send.

This group launched their protest, saying the mayor is putting the Inner Harbor ahead of the city’s children.

Each year thousands of kids participate in city funded after-school programs like the one at Calvin Rodwell Elementary. Antoinette Bossard’s kids are among them.

But she and others from the grassroots faith-based organization BUILD now blast Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s proposed budget, which includes a slight decrease in after-school funding. It’s down from $4.8 million in the 2012 budget to $4.6 million in 2013 as the city faces its third year of budget deficits.

They say that cut comes despite a verbal promise from the mayor to make major increases.

“She promised to double after-school funding,” said Rev. Andrew Foster Conners, BUILD clergy co-chair. “She didn’t have to. If she was going to cut it she could have said no.  She said ‘Yes, I make the promise.’  And we expect her to be honest, and we expect her to keep her commitment.”

The mayor was not available to speak with WJZ. Her spokesperson insists the mayor never made a promise to increase after-school funding, saying BUILD is misrepresenting the question they asked her and her answer.

“Children need to be our top priority,” Conners said. “They find money for the Convention Center. They find it for the Superblock. They find it for Harbor East. They find it for Under Armour.  We expect them to find it for our children. We will not allow any more public subsidies downtown until we put our children at the top of the priority list.”

BUILD officials insist they will be there to protest at any public hearings over subsidies for downtown and Inner Harbor projects.

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