City schools could lay off more than 1,000 staff members

Posted at 9:34 AM, Jan 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-27 17:30:59-05

Baltimore City Schools could see lay offs “of more than a thousand staff members,” according to schools CEO Sonja Santelises.

Santelises issued a letter Friday saying the school district is facing a budget gap of approximately $130 million for the 2017-18 school year.

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School officials have addressed past budget gaps with “short-term solutions,” she said, including spending and hiring freezes and layoffs in the district office, but those measures haven’t solved financial issues.

“Quite simply, our revenue has declined while our costs continue to go up,” she said.

The massive deficit comes from higher costs, less students enrolling, and charm city's state aid possibly being cut by nearly $42 million.

"We have to find that money, we can't just accept that it's not there," said Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke.  "The formulas for funding education are formulated in Annapolis."

If extra money isn't there, school leaders say more then one-thousand staff members could lose their jobs, most of them working directly in the schools.  Details that completely blindsided the Baltimore Teachers Union, which feels this is unacceptable.

"Our children are in jeopardy of losing a great education, we cannot afford to lose teachers or paraprofessionals or support personnel, because they all provide services to our students," Baltimore Teachers Union President Marietta English said.

She says the union is willing to work with the district to figure out how to save jobs.

City Council President Jack Young says this budget crisis requires all-hands-on-deck.  In a statement he says "Make no mistake, today's news is potentially devastating for the children and their families who depend on public schools in Baltimore.  We must come together in order to minimize the pain and disruption to our system.  We will need additional support from Governor Hogan and legislators in Annapolis."

Local parents are also concerned with the situation, knowing their children's education could be the cost to fill the budget gap.

"I'm very disappointed, i don't think it's acceptable," said Chris Lerch.  "I cannot believe that they would cut more positions, we've already cut to the bone, teachers are teaching class sizes of pushing 30-35 in some cases."

School officials hope to minimize the impact on students and advocate for more education funding, Santelises said. She encouraged community members to get involved in school budget conversations. 

“Because of the size of the budget gap, we will not be able to focus cost savings in the district office as we have done in past years. Most of the layoffs will affect staff members in schools,” she said. “I want to assure you that this does not mean we will work with any less urgency to provide our students with the high-quality teaching and learning they deserve. While we will not have the resources to accelerate this work, we will prioritize spending in areas we know have potential for the greatest impact on student success—including a strong classroom focus on literacy, staff development and leadership, and addressing the needs of the whole child with support for physical, social, and emotional well-being.”

Read the full statement.

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