Reporting Monique Griego
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Outdated, overcrowded, and flat out unacceptable. That’s how many people describe Baltimore City Public School buildings.
But Tuesday, city leaders announced a billion dollar plan to change that.
Monique Griego has more on what’s to come.
The plan aims to renovate or completely rebuild and revamp. The 10-year plan aims to bring school buildings into the 21st century.
For years, Baltimore City Public School students have been forced to learn in deplorable buildings and conditions.
“They’re hurting, they’re hurting. We need more,” said parent Amanda Richardson.
In some schools, like Gilmor Elementary, the needs are obvious. The buildings are old, outdated and falling apart. Other schools don’t have proper heating and cooling systems or windows that open.
Teacher Leon Pryer Jr. says less visible are the lack of programs and resources.
“The biggest thing for me is the oversized classrooms where the kids can’t get enough one-on-one attention with their teachers,” Pryer said.
But Tuesday, Baltimore City and school district leaders announced a massive plan to revamp city school buildings.
“The plan has been done with enormous community input,” said Dr. Andres Alonso, Baltimore City Schools’ CEO.
City leaders also had an outside company assess the buildings, and it gave Baltimore a failing grade.
“We try to do our best and try to promote the kids, but it makes it very, very hard,” said Pryer.
The 21st century buildings for our kids plan will cost $2.4-billion over 10 years–a big chunk of which is dependent on the legislature approving a bond next year.
The proposed plan has 177 recommendations that include renovating or replacing 136 schools, reducing district capacity, increasing building utilization and closing 26 city schools.
“It’s not going to be easy. The decisions that have to be made to close some schools are going to be rough. All around 30,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
A tough, long road parents are glad the city decided to take.
“Finally, something is being done about it. Because the children deserve it. It’s best for them. It’s going to help them in their future,” said Richardson.
The school board still has to approve the plan, and district leaders say things are open for change.