Three Maryland superintendents whose school systems stand to take the biggest hit from Maryland's 'Doomsday' budget pleaded with state legislators Monday to reverse an estimated $129 million cut to public education that they said would have devastating effects on their districts.

In an open letter to the state's top leadership, Baltimore city schools CEO Andres Alonso, Prince George's County Schools Superintendent William R. Hite, and Montgomery County Superintendent Joshua P. Starr asked state lawmakers to make it a priority to restore funding to schools as legislators prepare to head back into a special session of the Maryland General Assembly on May 14.

The letter, which you can read here, is addressed to Gov. Martin O’Malley, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. and House Speaker Michael E. Busch. 

The three superintendents write from the largest school systems in the state. Together, the districts comprise more than one-third of Maryland students, and nearly two-thirds of the state's African-American and Hispanic populations, the letter said. Collectively, the superintendents said, the three districts would shoulder 73 percent of the $128.8 million cut to public education.

The school leaders emphasized that the proposed $93 million cut to the Geographic Cost of Education Index -- the component of the state's funding formula  that gives more money to school districts where the cost of educating students is higher -- would disproportionaly impact their students, and thwart their efforts to close the achievement gap for their poorest and academically challenged students. 

"The elimination of the GCEI would be a huge setback in the gains our students have made," the letter said.

The letter pointed to Maryland's four-year-streak of being named the best school district in the country, and the factors that contribute to that title such as increased participation in Advanced Placement, as indicators that the state's accomplishments reflect its commitment to education.

"If we are to make good on our commitment to educating children equitably, regardless of their geographic location, we must maintain, and even increase, our investment in education," the letter concluded. 

erica.green@baltsun.com

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