BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Few areas of concern are generating more attention and more debate in Maryland than the cost of public education.
It will be the number one priority in the next General Assembly session, and Tuesday, the issue was in court in a case dating back to 1994.
Advocates for funding for Baltimore City point to schools forced to close in the winter for burst pipes and no heat, and forced to close in the summer for lack of air conditioning.
In March of this year, the ACLU and NAACP moved to reopen the case that resulted in the Thornton School Funding Plan, intended to close the disparity in school funding for city schools.
But, they claim, the Thornton Plan has not kept up with inflation and city schools are millions of dollars short.
Ajmel Quereshi, NAACP Senior Counsel, argued against a state motion to have the case dismissed.
“The state has underfunded Baltimore City Public Schools by $342 million annually at least for several years now,” he said. “That’s why we’ve come back to court to ensure that all students, including the students in Baltimore, get the education they deserve.”
There was a court hearing Tuesday on the state’s motion.
This at the same time the General Assembly and the Hogan administration wrestle with a new funding formula recommended by the Kirwan Commission to increase education spending $3.8 billion by 2030, in addition to billions more in school construction.
Senate President Mike Miller stressed the importance of additional funding in a news conference last month.
“Not only pass the bill for school construction for the whole state, but we’ve made a commitment collectively,” Miller said. “We’re going to fund Kirwan this year.”
Right now, things are up in the air despite assurances the outcome of legislation next session is uncertain, as is the court ruling on whether the lawsuit should be dismissed.