Baltimore City Public Schools | WYPR

Baltimore City Public Schools

Twenty-four years ago, a judge ordered fundamental changes to the way Baltimore City Public Schools are managed and funded. The ruling, the result of a 1994 lawsuit, led to Maryland’s current public school funding formula.

Then over the next decade, the court issued more opinions, saying that Baltimore students continued to be shortchanged.

On Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed a motion in Baltimore City Circuit Court to reopen that 1994 lawsuit. In the filing, they accuse Maryland of violating the state constitution by underfunding Baltimore City schools.

Rachel Baye

Maryland elected officials are fighting over who should decide academic calendars for public schools.

Gov. Larry Hogan in 2016 signed an executive order requiring schools to start after Labor Day and end by June 15. He is now trying to write that change into the state code, while the Senate gave initial approval on Thursday to a bill reversing Hogan’s order.

Five More City Schools on the Chopping Block

Nov 28, 2018
Dominique Maria Bonessi

  

Last week the Baltimore City School Board voted to revoke the charter of Banneker Blake Academy and close the school in June 2019. The board is to vote in January on closing five more schools—two traditional and three charters.

City School Board Votes to Close Banneker Blake Academy

Nov 14, 2018
Dominique Maria Bonessi

Baltimore City Schools’ board of commissioners voted seven to zero at Tuesday night’s meeting in favor of closing Banneker Blake Academy in north Baltimore. WYPR’s Dominique Maria Bonessi was at the meeting and spoke to Morning Edition Host Nathan Sterner about the board's decision.

Banneker Blake Academy Protests School Closure

Nov 12, 2018
Dominique Maria Bonessi

 

Parents and faculty from Banneker Blake Academy, a charter school in North Baltimore, gathered in front of city school headquarters Monday to protest the threatened closing of the school next January.

School officials say the academy didn’t meet requirements for renewal of its charter, but advocates argue it goes beyond that.

Dominique Maria Bonessi

 

Tuesday’s 105-degree heat index kept 10 Baltimore County schools without air conditioning closed on the first day of the school year. In Baltimore City, more than 60 schools dismissed students early — some before noon — as a result of the heat.

The lack of air conditioning is part of a larger political fight over school funding.

City Council Committee to Look at Stop Gap Funding for Schools

May 15, 2018
Dominique Maria Bonessi

Some Baltimore City public schools have lost thousands of dollars in federal funding because of changes to the school lunch program. City Council members are looking for ways to bridge the gap.

City Schools Expected to Lose 1500 Student in 2018-2019

May 8, 2018
Dominique Maria Bonessi

Baltimore’s schools, already suffering from declining enrollments, will lose even more students next year. School officials gave the news to a city council committee Tuesday.

Schools CEO Sonja Santelises told a committee looking into the school system’s enrollment task force that officials are projecting that 1500 students will leave the district in the 2018 to 2019 school year. She said the loss of students typically happens in 5th and 6th grades because parents are unsure of the middle school options available to them, but that trend has changed.

BCPS Looks to Increase Enrollment with Taskforce

May 1, 2018
Dominique Maria Bonessi

 

At Monday night’s city council meeting President Jack Young introduced  a resolution to hold a hearing with Baltimore City Public Schools on their enrollment task force. City school’s enrollment numbers have been declining faster than the city's population. WYPR’s City Hall Reporter Dominique Maria Bonessi spoke with Morning Edition Host Nathan Sterner.

Council Pushes for Diversity in City School's Taskforce

Apr 30, 2018
Baltimore City Public Schools

Baltimore City Council President Jack Young will introduce a resolution at Monday night's city council meeting to hold a hearing on Baltimore City Public School’s Enrollment Taskforce.

BCPS Headquarters May Be Moving

Apr 5, 2018
Baltimore City Public Schools

Baltimore City school officials are considering moving from their long-time headquarters on North Avenue—the building that once housed Baltimore Polytechnic Institute. But it’s unclear when, or if, that will happen.

Latest Addition to Baltimore's 21st Century Schools

Apr 5, 2018
Jonna McKone

Five years ago a coalition of state and city agencies embarked on an ambitious, $1 billion plan to renovate, replace and combine at least 23 of the most run-down and under-enrolled schools in Baltimore—all by the spring of 2022. Dorothy I. Height Elementary in Reservoir Hill was among two of those new, 21st Century Schools that opened Wednesday.

Pugh Unveils 2019 City Budget

Mar 28, 2018

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh unveiled her $2.8 billion budget for the coming fiscal year yesterday at a meeting of the Board of Estimates. The budget projects maintaining the property tax rate at $2.25 per $100 of assessed value.

Recap of Pugh's State of the City

Mar 13, 2018
Dominique Maria Bonessi

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh gave her state of the city address Monday to a gathering of city leaders with a theme of “Baltimore: A City on the Rise.” WYPR’s City Hall Reporter Dominique Maria Bonessi spoke with Morning Edition Host Nathan Sterner.

 

Hogan allocates $2.5M in emergency funds to BCPS

Jan 8, 2018
Baltimore City Public Schools

Governor Larry Hogan promised an emergency $2.5 million for repairs to Baltimore City Schools' troubled heating systems today. And he blamed the problems on mismanagement. Meanwhile, at least eight Baltimore City schools were closed today because of continuing problems with the heating systems and a water main break.

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.

Baltimore City school teachers canvass for students

Jun 26, 2017
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. .  

City schools fail to report pension liability

Jun 21, 2017
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."

Layoffs handed down by Baltimore City Schools

Jun 2, 2017
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.

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