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City Schools releases its vision for a world-class education system for Baltimore’s students

(Baltimore, MD) — As the General Assembly session gets underway in Annapolis and the state’s Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education (the “Kirwan commission”) continues its work toward recommendations for a new education funding formula, City Schools has outlined what a world-class education system would look like for Baltimore City. “Investing in Our Future” takes the building blocks defined by the Kirwan commission and identifies the specific components, services, and structures that would be required to ensure adequacy and equity in education for the city’s young people. The document was created with input from local and national experts and district stakeholders and is informed by research from leading scholars in education policy and practice.

“We hope this report will serve as a valuable tool for members of the Kirwan commission and for state legislators as funding recommendations are debated during the legislative session,” said City Schools CEO Sonja Brookins Santelises. “The services we outline are essential to the success of our students. Funding for them should be made available as soon as possible.”

Two years ago, a report to the Kirwan commission documented that City Schools needs an additional $358 million annually to ensure an adequate education for Baltimore’s students, while an analysis by the state’s Department of Legislative Services found that elimination of the inflation factor from the current funding formula has resulted in underfunding the district by $290 million per year. Further, an assessment of City Schools’ buildings, the oldest in the state, concluded in 2012 that it would cost $2.5 billion to bring those buildings up to minimally acceptable standards — a figure now estimated at $3 billion when adjusted for inflation.

Inadequate education funding is of particular concern in the context of ensuring equity for non-white students and students from low-income households, populations that make up the majority of City Schools’ enrollment. Education policy experts have consistently found Maryland’s current education funding to be inequitably distributed, with one study indicating that 53% of black students attend chronically underfunded schools, compared to just 8% of white students. “Investing in Our Future” proposes a new funding formula with a per-pupil foundation amount weighted for students in specific subgroups, with additional allocations for schools serving concentrations of low-income students.

“Year over year, it has grown harder to fund the programs that motivate students to learn, provide the enrichment that ignites their curiosity, offer the counseling, support, and services they need, attract and retain highly qualified staff, and repair our deteriorating buildings,” said Dr. Santelises. “We look forward to a new and equitable funding formula that invests in a vision of excellence for all Maryland’s young people and paves the way to a bright future for Baltimore’s students.”