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The Dripby Fern Shen4:45 pmMar 10, 20170

School aid plan: $180 million over three-years, Pugh says

City and state funding deal only covers part of $130 million gap

Above: Mayor Catherine Pugh and Del. Maggie McIntosh release plan to help city schools cover a funding shortfall and avoid cuts and layoffs. (Facebook)

Speaking in Annapolis today, Mayor Catherine Pugh unveiled the plan worked out with state lawmakers to assist Baltimore city schools – a three-year, $180 million state-city commitment that advocates called “encouraging” but incomplete.

The city’s contribution to the funding package, as outlined by the mayor, comes from Baltimore’s “rainy day fund,” leftover snow removal money and other sources. The other half is to come from the state, in part through changes to the state’s enrollment funding formula.

Still, the $180 million package falls short of what school officials say the system needs. Public Schools CEO Sonja Santelises has said Baltimore faces a $130 million budget deficit in the coming year alone.

As for who makes up the rest of that funding gap, Pugh said the additional money would have to come from separate negotiations with Gov. Larry Hogan.

That means for the parents, teachers and other advocates fighting for city school funding, the battle is not over.

“This is progress, but we cannot be complacent,” said Sharicca Boldon, co-chair of the Baltimore Education Coalition, in a statement today.

“Education for Baltimore City students has not yet been made whole,” Bolden said. “We have to secure the necessary funding to ensure that schools have the teaching staff, programs and other resources they need.”

Bebe Verdery, director of the ACLU of Maryland’s Education Reform Project, praised Pugh and the city delegation leaders, but said state monies are still needed.

“We now look to Gov. Hogan to take action to secure this funding for City Schools,” Verdery said.

Accountability Concerns

The Republican governor is looking back at them with some skepticism.

After reporting he had “a good meeting” with Pugh, a Democrat, Hogan went on to criticize school board spending at a news conference yesterday and suggested that oversight mechanisms might be a precondition to more state aid.

Pugh and Del. Maggie McIntosh, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, responded to the critique.

“There’s accountability language that the mayor has agreed to, and Dr. Santelises has agreed to for this funding,” said McIntosh, who appeared at the news conference alongside Pugh.

The mayor said she was confident the needed funding ultimately would be found.

“This is all hands on deck. . . everybody’s going to have to give a little,” Pugh said, noting that contract negotiations with the teachers’ union are ongoing.

“But we have had conversation with the governor, as well as the president of the senate and we have been assured that the funds will be there.”

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