City leaders discuss fiscal readiness of Kirwan Commission recommendations

Baltimore City Council
Posted at 10:36 PM, Dec 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-03 23:33:36-05

BALTIMORE — No air conditioning or heat in schools-- lead in the water-- some of the issues that our young people are dealing with in Baltimore City.

It takes money and a lot of it to fix the problems and the issue is to find that money while battling budget shortfalls.

On Tuesday night, the Baltimore City Council Education and Youth Committee held a hearing on Baltimore’s fiscal readiness for the Kirwan Commission recommendations.

In 2002, the state declared schools were underfunded by nearly $3 billion.

A state run commission known as the Kirwan Commission was created to figure out how much money is needed and how to spend it wisely.

Ivan Roberts, a student at Bard High School Early College and member of the Baltimore Algebra Project, came to speak in favor of more funding.

“Baltimore puts about $500 million into like policing, but only less than $300 million into education,” Roberts said. “There’s like a big gap between those numbers and that shows where our city's priorities are.”

Dr. Sonja Santelises, the CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools said they need about $342 million more a year-- which would mean about $2.4 million a school.

“You're talking about a literacy coach, a math coach, you’re talking about after school programming,” said Santelises. “You’re talking about full time, not half a year of art and shift to music, full time art and music, full time gym teachers.”

Henry Raymond, the Mayor’s Department of Finance Director, said they support increasing funding education for schools--but taking money out of the general fund would have a profound impact.

They're asking city agencies to reduce their budgets by 5 percent by 2022.

City Council President Brandon Scott calling the lack of school funding the biggest issue in the city.

“I went to schools without heat without air. I didn’t have an air-conditioned classroom until my 9th grade year at Mervo,” said Scott. “We have to once and for all have the courage to be true leaders and make the young people, the future of Baltimore a priority in our budget”