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Proposed Baltimore City school cuts will hurt where it counts most - the classroom

Is $24 million enough for Baltimore City Schools to fix the deficit problem?

BALTIMORE (WBFF) – Leaders in Baltimore City are praising Governor Larry Hogan after the first-term Republican announced an additional $24 million for ailing Baltimore City Schools. But does that money fix the deficit problem?

It certainly helps this, but what about next year? Budget deficits happen just about every year in Baltimore City Public Schools.

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In Baltimore City, the cries for help are growing stronger. So is the anger.

Baltimore City Schools spends $1.3 billion every year - nearly $16,000 per student - the fourth highest nationally.

Yet, school officials tell project Baltimore this year's crippling budget gap means deep cuts -- possibly 1,000 teachers and crucial programs.

Some elementary school class sizes could grow to nearly 40 students.

At Highlandtown, the basketball court could be empty. Soccer fields could go unused. Those programs may be cut, along with after-school music.

Mergenthaler might lose 10 teachers. Students may no longer have a guidance counselor to turn to or a college adviser to lead them onto higher education. The school could also lose its only librarian.

So might Thomas Johnson Elementary.

Minimizing that problem, says Baltimore City Council President Jack Young, is not as easy as just writing a big check.

Chris Summers, with the Maryland Public Policy Institute agrees, since these big deficits are common.

“It's a city that is so rich in history and so much potential,” Summers said. “Yet, you have year after year and decade after decade the same problems. And yet the same people are putting forth the same solutions that have never worked because their solutions to fix the problem was their previous solution to the previous problem."

FOX45 found four of the last five school budgets started with massive projected deficits.

  • 2017: $129 million
  • 2016: $60 million
  • 2015: $31 million
  • 2013: $35 million


"We need to hold the school system accountable too for the budget that they have, just like we hold everyone else accountable,” Council President Young says. “I don't want to put more money in until we find out where the leak is."

A leak that, every year, leaves our kids’ futures in the balance.

It's also a leak school CEO Sonja Santelises admits is not going away.

“Even if I get $130 million tomorrow I would be right back in this space next year,” Santelises said.

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The big question here is: Why do these budget deficits happen year after year?

The reasons always seem to change. Is it the funding formula? The enrollment? School construction costs? There is not one reason, but rather, a number of reasons.

Over the next couple of months, Project Baltimore will flush them out.

What are you seeing in your kid's schools? What's working and what's not?

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