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Baltimore City Public Schools: The budget deficit

Baltimore City Schools spend nearly $16,000 per student every year, making it the fourth highest nationally, according to the most recent federal data available. In return, taxpayers get some of the worst student outcomes in the state.

BALTIMORE (WBFF) -- FOX45 has launched a new initiative called 'Project Baltimore.'

We’ve assembled a team of journalists committed to a long-term investigation into Baltimore-area Public Schools.

Our first report focuses on Baltimore City Schools, which get more state and federal funding that any other District in Maryland.

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Baltimore City Schools spend nearly $16,000 per student every year, making it the fourth highest nationally, according to the most recent federal data available.

In return, taxpayers get some of the worst student outcomes in the state. And now, for yet another year, you’re being asked to pay more. With a looming $130 million budget gap, 1,000 teachers stand to lose their jobs. Some class sizes are projected to balloon to more than 40 students, and crucial programs that help already underserved students may be on the chopping block.

School officials say soaring teacher salaries and benefits are simply growing too fast. When you add declining student enrollment and new school construction costs, you have the biggest budget gap in recent memory.

On March 10 Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh and Delegate Maggie McIntosh announced a proposed city and state plan to provide $180 million in additional funding for city public schools, to be distributed over the next three years.

"I have asked my staff to move as quickly as possible to analyze the details of the plan announced today and its implications for schools," Dr. Sonja Santelises, CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools, said in a March 10 statement. "We must also determine the extent of the remaining budget gap, and the options for closing it while ensuring that we maximize resources to support priorities for our students."

Critics say a crippling cycle of deficits only further strains an ailing school filled with children whose futures are far too bleak.

According to Baltimore City Schools data, 86% of tested third graders can’t read or write at grade level, and 93% of middle school students are not proficient in math.

Frederick Douglass High School, according to district data, has zero students proficient in Math or English state testing, yet more than half of its students graduate.

The alarming reality is that many of Baltimore’s children have bigger concerns than test scores, like where their next meal is coming from -- or whether they’re safe in their own classrooms.

In the weeks and months ahead, FOX45 is committed to investigating the Baltimore area public school systems. We will work every day to inform you about what’s really going on inside our kids’ schools.

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