When the Governor announced his initial budget, it included a $42 million reduction in state aid to Baltimore City Schools. This is the third year in a row that the children of Baltimore’s City School system have faced a reduction in state aid to their schools. In that timespan, these schools have seen class sizes swell beyond capacity and key programs cut, while teachers and staff have had to purchase vital school supplies out of their own pockets. We do not exaggerate when we say a $42 million cut to Baltimore’s public school system would do irreparable damage to our children’s education.
AFT-Maryland vociferously opposes the proposed $42 million cut in Gov. Hogan’s budget to Baltimore City Public Schools.
While we are certainly concerned with the recent news that there is a $129 million dollar structural deficit in the Baltimore City Public School System, we must point out that much of that deficit has been because state funding has stagnated over the past few years, making it difficult for city schools to plan for future needs. In fact, because state funding has lagged behind for 9 years, the cumulative gap between where we should be funded under the original Thornton Formula and the financial reality we find ourselves today is $1.6 billion. (1)
Despite our great appreciation for legislative efforts in recent years to defend public education against proposed cuts from the Governor or from excessive reductions due to the calculations of local wealth, the members of AFT-Maryland know that the city’s public school system cannot sustain any more reductions in school aid. Indeed, as is pointed out by the research team tasked with assessing the adequacy of the Bridge to Excellence funding formula, Maryland needs $2.9 billion more dollars dedicated to public education, rather than $1.6 billion less. (2)
Additionally, while the Kirwan Commission works to digest the information given to it regarding the success of the current funding formula, and to make recommendations to the legislature about changes that need to be made, we are concerned about the Governor’s plan to roll back dollars he is mandated by law to spend on education and support services. Governor Hogan has called for the elimination of funding for vital servicesthe legislature passed last year, including a $7.5 million cut for creating or expanding extended day programs or offering extra education programming at a city public school. Much of the incentive to pass this legislation was the unrest that gripped the city following the tragic death of Freddie Gray. Governor Hogan himself was adamant in his support of the city and providing the resources Baltimore citizens need to escape the cycle of poverty. Yet his budget proposals do nothing to help with social mobility of Baltimore’s students and families.
(1) Data taken from DLS’s report Adequacy of Funding in Maryland, December 8, 2016, page 7.
(2) Final Recommendations of the Study of Adequate Funding for Education in the State of Maryland. Augenblick, Palaich and Associates. Jan. 17, 2017.
Members of AFT-Maryland vehemently oppose any bills that would cut back spending mandates on education in the Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act (BRFA), including the funding the legislature secured last year for after school programs that are vital to a child’s development like after school time, summer school programs, and extended library hours.
For more information, contact Todd Reynolds, Political Coordinator, AFT-Maryland, at firstname.lastname@example.org.