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City schools deficit timeline

1997: School board of commissioners appointed under newly created city-state partnership. The board inherits a $484,000 deficit.

1998: School system finishes the fiscal year with a surplus of $6.1 million.

1999: The school system increases its surplus to $15 million.

2000

June 30: Under the administration of Robert Booker, the system overspends its budget by $33 million, ending the year with more than an $18 million deficit.

July: Booker leaves and Carmen V. Russo is hired.

June 30, 2001: In Russo's first year, she lays off some administrative staff and the system has an infusion of $8 million from a settlement with the city. The system ends the year by reducing the deficit to $12 million.

June 30, 2002: The school system increases the deficit again, due to an overrun in the projected cost of summer school, special education and the settlement of litigation. The system ends the fiscal year with a $22 million deficit.

2003

June 30: School system overspends budget by more than $31 million, creating a $52 million deficit. Russo leaves the system.

July 1: Bonnie S. Copeland appointed interim chief executive officer of school system; she is later permanently named to the job.

November: Hundreds of Baltimore school system employees are handed layoff notices as the district attempts to pull out of a financial tailspin expected to result in insolvency by the end of the school year.

Dec. 10: Angry parents, students and laid-off workers delayed the start of a school board meeting for at least an hour, taking over the room with a demonstration calling for the dismissal of the board that they hold accountable for a financial crisis.

Dec. 16: Two top Baltimore school administrators are fired by Copeland, who appears to be continuing a housecleaning of staff who served in key positions during the administration of Russo.

Dec. 24: News surfaces that a private consultant hired to work on a new computer system for the Baltimore school district was paid more than $600,000 over 18 months, more than twice what the highest-paid city school official earned during the same period.

2004

Jan. 7: An audit shows the system's accumulated deficit has grown to $58 million because federal money counted as revenue was never collected. School financial officials project that the deficit, if no action is taken, will rise to $75 million by June 30, 2004. The projection is modified to $58 million after layoffs early this year.

Jan. 13: Baltimore school officials threaten to lay off 1,200 more employees – primarily teachers – to deal with a worsening financial crisis if employee unions do not agree to either an eight-day furlough or a 6 percent to 7 percent pay cut through June 30.

Feb. 6: Defying a threat from Baltimore's schools chief, angry teachers and aides decisively reject a deficit-reduction proposal that would have cut salaries or imposed furloughs – measures school officials said were necessary to prevent hundreds of layoffs.

Feb. 11: In a bid to prevent teacher layoffs and ease the financial crisis in city schools, Mayor Martin O'Malley offers to lend the struggling system $8 million if employees accept a 3.5 percent pay cut.

Feb. 12: Thousands of angry city school teachers and aides vote overwhelmingly to reject a 3.5 percent cut in salaries.

Feb. 16: Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. says that his office will advance money to the school system to deal with the crushing cash flow problem.

Feb. 20: Baltimore school officials delivered to the governor a plan critical to getting a $42 million loan from the state that would help keep the system out of bankruptcy.

Feb. 23: The deal to bail out the struggling Baltimore school system begins to crumble, at the same time that the system's chief financial adviser Robert R. Neall resigned in frustration indicating that the schools were hurtling toward insolvency.

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