At a meeting Tuesday, the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners unanimously voted to approve the proposed $1.2 billion budget.
The $1.2 billion budget proposed no new spending, and shifts funds away from some programs, like city schools police, cutting 20 positions that are forecast to save about $1.4 million. The budget called instead for refocusing that money toward restorative justice programs to help students.
Marnell Cooper, chairman of the board commissioners, said they are expecting a balanced budget that will help the district address a five year goal of improving literacy and math for many students.
The spending plan also cuts already vacant positions within the district, saving about $4 million. Some of that money will go toward boosting literacy for students aged Pre-K through 3rd grade, and increasing math proficiency among students in grades 6 thru 9.
"We're also talking about safety. Safety in the schools is a big issue for us," said Marietta English, president of the Baltimore Teachers Union. "We feel we need our school police in their schools. They not only serve as protection, but they do a lot of things with our boys and girls."
The spending plan also re-ignites an issue central to the city's publicly funded charter schools. Fourteen charter schools filed a lawsuit against the school district in the fall alleging state law was broken when the amount of money sent to charters was cut.
This year, that amounts to a drop of about $246 per charter school student, to a total of $9,141.
The Maryland Alliance of Public Charter Schools is not party to that lawsuit, but supports it.
"The number of $9,141 puts us at levels that are below funding that was presented in 2011," said Nicole Harris-Crest, the organizations executive director.
City schools did get a boost this year from Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, who allocated another $12.7 million to help offset losses in student enrollment.
After approval, the budget must then be approved by the Baltimore City Council.