City Schools Slashes Maintenance Budget, cites increasing costs
BALTIMORE (WBFF)-- As Annapolis pours millions of dollars into Baltimore City Public Schools for emergency maintenance, a Project Baltimore investigation has learned North Avenue has been slashing millions from its maintenance budget.
Baltimore City Schools is under fire over freezing buildings. The frigid temperatures that kicked off 2018 created a maintenance nightmare for North Avenue. Eighty-five schools, nearly half its buildings, suffered burst pipes or broken heat.
"We have an infrastructure problem in this city. There's no question about it. We have some of the oldest pipes in the country," said Mayor Catherine Pugh.
In a District that gets nearly $16,000 per student, the fourth highest nationally according to the U.S. Census, a GoFundMe page was set up to buy space heaters after alarming images hit social media. Calling it an emergency, Governor Larry Hogan gave City Schools $2.5 million to get the heat working.
"Let me be clear, this is not to reward the people responsible who have failed, this funding will help kids freezing in winter,” said Gov. Hogan during a recent press conference.
But while Annapolis is giving City Schools millions for maintenance, a Project Baltimore investigation has learned the District has slashed millions from maintenance. We analyzed City Schools budgets and learned in 2015, City Schools spent over $35 million on building maintenance. In 2016, that fell to $30 million. This year, the district budgeted just $26 million. Next year, it’s down to $25 million – a projected 27 percent cut in maintenance in four years.
U.S. Census data indicates of the 100 largest public Elementary-Secondary School Systems, Baltimore City Public Schools have the 4th largest expenditure per pupil.
We also discovered 34 full-time employees have been eliminated from the Operations Office since 2016, which is about 10 percent of the workforce. That’s 34 fewer people to maintain the buildings.
A statement from City Schools to Fox45 explained that declining revenue and increasing costs have cut into North Avenue across the board. In the last three years, District Office expenditures are projected to go down $50 million, building maintenance is a part of that.