Alonso encourages school system to 'act now' to oppose cuts
Baltimore City schools CEO Andres Alonso put out an e-blast Tuesday night to all interested stakeholders in the system, saying that the state's budget situation was now of "fundamental importance," for the city.
"Any change in the state method for funding education that reduces our funding at a time of growing enrollment is a grave risk to the progress and momentum that is now underway in city schools," the first line of the letter said.
In recent weeks, the CEO has become increasingly more vocal about how the city's budget shortfalls could increase class sizes, cut teaching positions, and force principals to axe programs in their schools. The district is also looking for millions in savings by offering a early retirement incentive to 750 teachers.
Alonso went on to outline how the proposed change to the state's per-pupil funding formula--known as Thornton--would starkly underfund the the district, which has gained 700 more students this year. Under the formula, Baltimore is facing a $15 million cut in the state's proposed budget.
"Meanwhile, many of the costs of doing business—in things like health benefits, utilities, pre-k programs—keep going up, by about $58 million next year," the letter said.
Alonso said that the proposed cuts could affect the majority of public schools in the district--he gave the example that for a typical school of 600 students, the cuts could mean a drop in spending power of about $522,000—almost 10 percent of a school’s budget.
"To accommodate these cuts, schools will have to cut priorities that are critical to school success," Alonso wrote, citing halting expansion of pre-k programs, eliminating art and music or after school programs, and getting rid of field trips and other enrichment programs.
We already fail miserably at the upkeep of our buildings, due to lack of funding," he said in the letter.
Alonso urged the district to speak out against the cuts down in Annapolis on Feb. 28 at a rally organized by the Baltimore Education Coalition.