Mice feces, leaking roofs, no pencils: Retired Baltimore City teacher speaks out
BALTIMORE (WBFF) -- What is going on inside Baltimore City Schools? Why aren’t the children getting the education they need and deserve?
Project Baltimore sat down with a retired Baltimore City teacher to help answer those questions.
For the past 17 years, Christine Bryant devoted her working life to teaching some of Baltimore City’s most disadvantaged kids. She retired in January, and can’t stay quiet.
“I know I'm getting myself in trouble,” Bryant said, “somebody has to speak up.”
As a STEM teacher at Garrett Heights, Bryant tells FOX45 she routinely had no supplies. She had to buy even the basics like paper, pencils and white board markers out of her own pocket. Teachers can deduct $250 per year on their federal income taxes for classroom expenses, but Bryant says she would spend that much in one month. With up to 32 students per class, her room didn’t have enough desks and some students sat on tables. Windows were broken. The bathrooms never had paper towels. Janitors were so hard to get, she kept a mop and broom to clean her own room, which included picking up plenty of mice feces.
As a science teacher, her faucets didn’t have hot water. When the Internet went down, it took North Avenue days to get someone there to fix it. During winter, the thermostat would break, and her classroom would have no heat. All this in a school district with a $1.3 billion budget, which spends nearly $16,000 per student, the fourth highest in the nation.
“I think it's a gross mismanagement of money," Bryant said.
We took her concerns to Keith Scroggins, Baltimore City Schools’ Chief Operating Officer.
"I don't think anyone would say it's acceptable," Scroggins said. "We live in an urban environment with urban challenges.”
Scroggins says those challenges include old buildings and not enough money to fix them. In his 11 years as head of maintenance, he said the situation has “slightly” improved, but is still not close to where it needs to be.
"Our effort is to improve the condition of our schools. I think we've done that in the last 11 years, for sure. But there are issues at our schools that are not going to be resolved overnight," Scroggins said.
Over the past three years, Project Baltimore found $9 million has been slashed from the District’s maintenance budget while total salaries increased by $13 million.
"I saw a lot and I tried to change a lot,” Bryant said, “but one voice is not going to be heard."
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