Baltimore City Public Schools | WYPR

Baltimore City Public Schools

DOMINIQUE MARIA BONESSI

Hundreds of teachers, parents, elected officials, and other community members filled the auditorium at the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute Thursday night to advocate for a more equitable approach to funding Maryland’s public schools. On the other side of their pleas was a state commission tasked with overhauling the current funding model. WYPR’s Rachel Baye was at the public hearing and joins Nathan Sterner to discuss it.

Earlier this month, Baltimore City Schools laid off 115 people to help plug a looming budget gap. But at the same time the school system was trying to fill 200 vacancies.

And that has left teachers and their representatives in layoff limbo.

"It’s just a mystery to me why you can’t find a place for these people," fumed Marietta English, president of the Baltimore Teacher’s Union.

Dominique Maria Bonessi / 1992

The Baltimore Teachers Union partnered with Baltimore City Schools last week to launch a five-week campaign to enroll 1,000 new students in city schools. 

Using a database of targeted houses provided by the city, groups of teachers and paraprofessionals have gone door knocking to try to talk parents into sending their kids to city schools. But at least one group found that many of the houses where they were told school aged children lived were vacant; one after another, after another, with mail piled up at the threshold. .  

PUGHFORMAYOR.COM

Baltimore City schools officials failed to report a $100 million pension liability to the city government in fiscal year 2015, according to the city auditor.

Auditor Robert McCarty told the Board of Estimates about the missing information Wednesday morning.

"In their report they did not include their liability to the city's employee retirement system [ERS] of $100 million," McCarty said after the meeting. "In their opinion, it was a liability of the city of Baltimore to the ERS."

photo courtesy baltimorecityschools.org

Baltimore City school officials sent layoff notices to 37 teachers, 39 administrators, 26 paraprofessionals and school personnel, 11 support staff, and five district managers Thursday. It was the first round of layoffs in city schools in a decade.

Marietta English, president of the Baltimore Teachers Union, denounced the layoffs, wondering why they were necessary when school leaders have said they need to fill 200 vacancies.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

The General Assembly passed the state’s $43-billion budget Tuesday, with a little less than two weeks to go before the legislature’s 90-day session ends.

The final budget includes nearly $30 million to help Baltimore City Public Schools fill its own budget hole.

Rachel Baye

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh announced Friday a joint plan with the state to help fill the city school system’s budget gap with $180 million over three years. The plan needs to be approved by the full legislature and Gov. Larry Hogan.

Some parents, teachers, students and administrators in Baltimore City Schools spent the week trying to convince state and local lawmakers to plug the schools’ $130 million dollar budget gap.

The search for money to “fix the gap” started in Annapolis on Monday where Mayor Catherine Pugh staged a press conference. “We have not heard yet what the governor's commitment is going to be,” she said, calling for the state to pitch in more funds.  “And he knows how important our school system is and how important our children are.”

John Lee / WYPR

Last week Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh said she would update plans to shrink the city school’s $130 million budget shortfall. Monday, she and city officials unveiled that plan.

Jonna McKone

With Baltimore city schools facing a $130 million shortfall-- roughly 10 percent of the annual budget—schools CEO Sonja Santelises has warned of painful cuts, including teacher layoffs.

Some of the specifics are beginning to take shape as school principals received their budgets last week.

Job Grotsky, the principal at Mount Royal Elementary in Bolton Hill says next year’s budget is significantly smaller than in the past.  He’s probably going to lay off nine people, some of them teachers.

“As a result we basically have to build the school from the ground up,” he said.

Episode #1: How Adults View Youth

Feb 7, 2017

Deneira moderated a discussion with her co-reporters about adults’ perceptions of youth. The students had an honest and lively discussion about their experiences being stereotyped and how they feel adults could be more understanding and helpful to young people.


Jonna McKone

For the fifth time in ten years, a Maryland teacher is one of four finalists for the National Teacher of the Year award.  Athanasia Kyriakakos is the first Baltimore City teacher to reach those heights.

Kyriakakos, the only visual arts teacher at Mergenthaler Vocational Technical High School, or Mervo, was chosen for her dedication to her students and her commitment to teaching art as a critical thinking skill.

She started at Mervo, the biggest high school in Baltimore, four years ago and found the school didn’t do much in the way of proudly showcasing its students’ work in the glass display cases that line the halls.

Flickr Creative Commons // Elvert Barnes

Jake Naquin, a 10th grader at Bard High School Early College in West Baltimore, was waiting at Harford Road and The Alameda for a bus home to Hamilton one day last November when  three teenagers came up to him.

“Basically me and two of my friends were at the stop,” he explained. “They asked us what school we went to.  And we answered. “

So, Jake and his friends, unnerved, headed for another bus stop. They got about half-way there when the same group stopped them and demanded his phone. He says he thought they were joking.

Jonna McKone

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Coleman Report, a landmark study led by then Johns Hopkins University sociologist James Coleman. The study found an enormous achievement gap on test scores between black and white children and was the basis for the busing programs of the 70’s to achieve racial balance in schools.

State and federal programs have poured billions of dollars into some of the nation’s worst schools since 2009 in hopes of making improvements. But once those schools show progress, the money disappears, and they risk sliding backward.

Commodore John Rodgers Elementary and Middle School in East Baltimore is one of those schools. After drastically improving test scores, school climate, enrollment and absenteeism, it is no longer eligible for turn around funding.

Nicole Price, 21st Century Schools

  Maintenance inspections at public schools around the state tell local school authorities if there are issues affecting the health or safety of students and staff. But a state audit released Wednesday found that hundreds of these inspection reports hadn’t reached school officials more than a year after the inspections were completed.

Nicole Price, 21st Century School Building Plan

The Baltimore City school system is spending $1 billion to update and renovate nearly two dozen overcrowded and outdated schools as part of the 21st Century Schools Building Plan. But closing schools and buildings and moving students, no matter the goal, is not easy, especially for communities that have lost many of their public institutions over the years.

Marvin Walker’s daughter attends Samuel F.B. Morse Elementary School in a Southwest Baltimore neighborhood of vacant homes and broken sidewalks. It’s a school that’s slated to close and its students are to move to nearby Frederick Elementary, which is being modernized to accommodate more students under the system’s 21st Century School Building Plan.