Lawmakers press for full funding of city schools gifted programs

A resolution seeking to restore and preserve funding for two programs that target the city's gifted students was introduced in the City Council on Monday, as city political leaders described a disinvestment in the city schools' top achievers.

The resolution, which also calls for a hearing, was in response to budget cuts proposed to  International Baccalaureate programs at two schools next year, and steady cuts to the Ingenuity Project in the past five years.

School officials also proposed paying for Ingenuity next year from the system's rainy day fund -- which school officials turn to when there's no money in the general budget -- a plan that the school board rejected.

The Baltimore Sun outlined the cuts and repercussions in a story, which can be found here.  City school officials also discussed the dire budget situation in a story, which can be found here.

Bill Henry, the lead sponsor of the council resolution, said he met with school officials Monday to discuss funding for the Ingenuity and IB programs.

“There was back and forth about how much money we’re actually talking about,” Henry said.  “What they said was, despite some of the concerns raised in the article, this year’s funding is not as restricted or reduced as some of the advocates have come to believe.”

The IB cuts were publicized in a budget presentation, which can be found here.

He added the city should consider giving the schools more money to fund the programs.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said she was told that funding was not reduced.

“The word I got was that for this year and next the funding is level,” she said. 

“It’s not!” said City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke.

City Councilwoman Rikkie Spector said 300 students qualified for the Ingenuity program, but the schools couldn’t fund all the slots.

“Every kid who met that bar should be allowed into the program. All 300,” she said. “We owe it to them.”

Rawlings-Blake said she believed the school system hasn’t always stressed programs for high achievers. 

“I think we all know this was not a priority of the previous CEO. It is a priority of the incoming CEO,” she said. 

“We need to make clear that these programs are so important,” Henry said.

City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young said he wanted to see the same program “available in all of our schools.”

“Unfortunately we’ve been under the leadership of Baltimore CEOs that have systematically broken down our school system so that all of our schools are not at a level playing field,” said City Councilwoman Helen Holton

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad