City school system presents scenario that could mean layoffs

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Baltimore city school officials presented Tuesday a budget scenario that could call for "considerable staff layoffs and de-funding key contracts that serve schools" if a $31 million deficit is not closed.

In a presentation to the city school board, which can be viewed here, school officials unveiled the first draft of how revenues and expenditures are shaping up for next year. The actual budget for fiscal year 2015 will not be presented until next month, when it also has to be adopted.


According to the preliminary numbers, the board would need to dip into its reserve to maintain its level of funding to schools, avoid deep cuts to the district's central office and sustain staple programs like summer school and key reforms like Race to the Top work.

Victor de La Paz, chief financial officer for the school system, said the district is not expecting that it will have to resort to layoffs, but officials wanted to put an array of options -- and  the largest expenses -- on the table for the board to consider.

"Anybody at North Avenue who is not out at schools regularly, is there," De La Paz said.


Among the largest staff groups are the city school police force, clusters of support staff called "networks" that were created under city schools CEO Andres Alonso. Contracts that would be up for consideration are things like Teach for America and Baltimore City Teaching Residency contracts, and legal services for international teachers.

De La Paz advised the board that it was in the position to dip into its fund balance, as it has done in the past, and do so without jeopardizing the system's fiscal health.

But, board members were lukewarm to the idea because of several large-scale, multi-year financial commitments the district has made, such as the 10-year facilities plan that requires a $20 million annual contribution. Other members pointed out that many of the line items that would get  reserve money this year would need more than a one-time infusion.