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Packing bags for UB: City College building gets makeover

Posted at 7:00 PM, May 30, 2024

BALTIMORE — Baltimore City College is getting a makeover. During the renovations, the school will move to the University of Baltimore.

The school system will pony up $9.8 million to make the move happen.

The deal was stamped on Tuesday night by the city school's board of commissioners. The renovations are long overdue, as the City College building is over 100-years-old, making it the third oldest high school in the U.S.

The move was approved by the Baltimore City Schools’ Board of Commissioners during a long and heated meeting Tuesday night. About 100 people piled into the unairconditioned commissioners’ chamber.

Most, like Rachel Duncan on the Parent and Community Advisory Board, were in favor of the move. She spoke at the meeting.

“It’s a great opportunity for Baltimore City College students and also for Baltimore city schools in general to offer a high-quality high school program in a collegiate environment,” Duncan says.

Some people disagree and one commissioner voted against it. They say that it will give City College students an unfair advantage and that the other high schools should have a similar opportunity.

Duncan doesn’t see it that way. She says all of the BCPSS high schools have dual enrollment programs with UB and other local colleges.

“Our school board commissioners did a really good job of due diligence in this case and asking tough questions regarding equity,” Duncan says. “It’s our hope that this partnership with UB will open doors at other local universities for our high schools.”

City College’s 100-year-old building is scheduled for renovations starting in June 2025 for three years. Nicknamed “the castle on the hill,” the building is the third-oldest school in use in the country. It has no air conditioning and needs extensive updates.

Former Baltimore mayor and UB’s president, Kent Schmoke, is an alum of the school. He offered exclusive use of an unused portion of its academic center to the school. Students and staff will also have access to a few other buildings on campus, including the student center, library and parking garage.

Schmoke initially offered the campus for free. The deal approved by the school commissioners says annual rent will be $1.

The multi-million dollar tab comes from turning the rented space into sections that meet the school’s needs, such as classrooms, restrooms, science labs and a cafeteria; technology; utilities, maintenance and security.

Some people are concerned that the partnership will give City College students an unfair advantage because they’ll have direct access to a university.

City College is one of four city high schools that will be renovated by 2030 through the school system’s 21st Century Learning initiative. The other schools – Poly, Western and Douglass – will be relocated to the former Northwestern High School building.