Mayor Catherine Pugh spoke out today on the problems with failing heat and burst pipes reported in some Baltimore city public schools, saying she was “deeply distressed” by the problems students and teachers encountered this week.
Pugh said she was ordering city recreation centers to be opened today to accommodate children, who are home with school cancelled today district-wide because of the snow.
Here is the full statement:
Like every parent, grandparent, caretaker, teacher and student in the Baltimore City School System, I am deeply distressed by the substandard conditions that are preventing our children from being where they need to be – in the classroom. The lack of heat, poorly insulated windows, broken plumbing and other critical infrastructure issues have created an unacceptable and dangerous environment for our children.
The fact that Baltimore City Public Schools was separated from Baltimore City government over 20 years ago and ceded to the jurisdiction of the State of Maryland inhibits my ability to intervene in critical areas that require State authority and the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners to address.
Only recently in the last General Assembly session, for instance, have I been given authority for appointing the full Board of Commissioners. Having made two appointments which have yet to be sworn-in to the 9-member board, it will take a few years given current terms before we can reconstitute the full Board.
In addition to State funds that approximate $60 million annually for maintenance, the City of Baltimore has allocated an additional $17 million for maintenance purposes during the current school year and will increase that amount to $19 million next year.
I have called on City Schools CEO, Dr. Sonja Brookins Santelises, and the Baltimore City Board of Commissioners to assess and account for how appropriated maintenance funds are being spent. I am also urging an expedited process to deal with these issues, get these conditions fixed and get our students back to school.
In the meantime, while our children are out of school, we have opened our City recreation centers from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. to accommodate our children. The Food Bank and City of Baltimore will be providing snacks and food today to all of our youth who are at the recreation centers.”