BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Baltimore City School system is facing it’s largest budget gap in history. Baltimore’s mayor and school system CEO are laying out their strategy and taking the fight to Annapolis.
While there were no specifics laid out at the state house in Annapolis on Monday afternoon, the plan seems to be to ask the Governor for money and then wait and see if he gives it to city schools.
“We come here today to Annapolis to say ‘We need help.'” says Mayor Catherine Pugh.
The mayor and Baltimore City delegation provided no specifics on funding, but say they’re determined to close the $130 million budget shortfall facing city schools. It’s the largest ever, which could lead to teachers being laid off, and program cuts system wide.
“Yes, we require more. We’ve got greater problems in Baltimore,” says Mayor Pugh.
Baltimore city spends the third lowest for every student, contributing a little more than $3400, yet, receives some of the most state funding, almost $12,000 a student.
“You want to know why we get more dollars than other counties? It’s because it’s the price of poverty,” says Delegate Maggie McIntosh.
The governor told WJZ anchor Mary Bubala last week the city needs to step up.
“The city is several hundred million dollars short and they’re not funding schools. The state has been paying twice as much as they do anywhere else. So, while we want to work together and I promise the mayor and legislature that we will work together, but they can’t keep saying give us more money, but we are not going to fix the problems,” says Governor Hogan.
“We are losing and wasting hundreds of millions and it’s a mess. I believe every kid in Maryland should get a world-class education. They’re not getting it in the Baltimore City Schools.”
The deadline to make cuts or come up with more money is July 1. But even if the budget shortfall gets smaller, the city faces declining enrollment in the years ahead and will find itself in the same budget hole next year unless lawmakers and administrators undertake real reforms to fix the problem.
“It means not just a one-year response but this has to be a collective commitment over the longterm to ensure the viability not only of our schools but of our city through the young people,” says Baltimore City Schools CEO Dr. Sonja Santelises.
Negotiations are underway with the governor. We should see in two to three weeks how much money he intends to give up and if he doesn’t give enough money, the state delegation says they’re going to fight to work around him in the general assembly.
WJZ did not hear any specific commitment from the mayor today on how much extra funding she’s willing to provide.