Baltimore voters can establish school facilities fund today
According to a story by our City Hall Reporter Julie Scharper, voters will have the opportunity to fuel to an increasingly hot topic of the city's dilapidated school buildings on the November 8 ballot.
An amendment to the city's charter will appear on the ballot on Tuesday, which would establish a fund specifically for renovating and upgrading city-owned school buildings.
The amendment, proposed by City Council President Bernard "Jack" Young earlier this year, is one of several efforts in the last year to garner attention and pressure elected officials to address the estimated $2.8 billion in facilities improvements needed throughout the district.
While Young originally sought to empower the city council to designate taxpayer dollars to the fund, the city's finance department opposed the measure. The fund can be endowed, however, with grants and donations.
The ACLU of Maryland pinpointed the figure in a report released last year, inspiring a series of campaigns throughout the city to fund improvements as fast as possible. Just last week, the ACLU and other education advocates that formed the group "Transform Baltimore" held a "Speak Out" event where groups representing more than 30 schools spoke out about the abysmal conditions of their school buildings.
The event was the first of many efforts the group said will seek to put political pressure on the mayor and elected officials to explore alternative financing models, particularly one that has been used in Greenville, SC that could begin the work ASAP. Read more about that plan here.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake convened a task force last fall that was supposed to release a report outlining how the city could tackle the $2.8 billion task. It has yet to be released. Her spokesman told our City Hall reporter in the story that it could be released in the next two weeks.