BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore City looks for alternative funding for school improvements.  Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has assigned a task force to find new money to pay for school construction and renovation beyond existing funding sources.  Pat Warren reports it’s not hard to see why this is a priority.

The conditions jump right out at you.

“I think the city schools are very neglected,” said one.

A school crossing sign is reflected in the old acrylic barrier of a city school window; in the lower panes, the silhouettes of students in a building in need of renovations.

Not much has changed from the days when George Chapman and Devonne Davidson went to school.

“It was run-down,” Chapman said.

“The schools are cold.  The schools have to be closed ’cause there’s no heat,” Davidson said.

And then when it’s hot, it’s not much better.

“I was going into classrooms and by one o’clock in the afternoon, those kids were, like, flopping in their desks,” said Dr. Andres Alonso.

“Three windows out, windows broken out and around there, it’s just a miss.  Kids come out and play on this, they be falling down,” said one.  “Kids spend more time outta school than they do in, they really do.”

A task force will find ways to channel funds into school improvements, an estimated $2.8 billion shortfall.  It’s too much to expect very soon but too important to ignore.

“We’ve made a tremendous effort,” Rawlings-Blake said.

The task force will make its recommendations by February 2011.


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