City Council members say they want to know more about Baltimore school administrators' plans to lay off as many as 300 people to balance a $1.31 billion budget next year. They will get the details later today.

Schools chief Sonja Santelises and her staff are scheduled to present the city schools draft budget to a council committee this afternoon.


Santelises released her budget proposal last week, which included the possibility of layoffs. Her announcement came weeks after state and city legislators pledged nearly $60 million to shore up the district budget for 2018. Before the pledge of assistance, Santelises said as many as 1,000 people could lose their jobs.

Councilman Brandon Scott said he wants to know "as much as they know" about the proposed layoffs that are part of the budget.

"Basically, what are the layoffs?" Scott said. "How are they going to be divided up around the system? Who will be laid off? How will it be determined?"

Scott and other members of the budget and appropriations committee expect school officials to provide answers to those and other questions about the school system budget.

The layoffs include fewer than 75 teachers in core subjects such as math and English, school officials said. The majority of the layoffs will affect administrators and support staff, such as classroom assistants, special education aides, office secretaries and central office employees.

District administrators expect to reduce the number of needed layoffs through routine retirements and departures that typically occur at the end of the school year.

Council members routinely request presentations on the school budget, but the district's latest financial plan has been a matter of concern among city officials ever since Santelises revealed in January that the district faced a $130 million shortfall next year.

The extra money from state and city legislators cut the deficit to about $70 million. Santelises closed the remaining shortfall with cuts of $30 million from schools and $10 million from the central office. She's counting on $10 million in other savings next year.

She also plans to balance the budget by transferring $21 million from a reserve fund, considerably less than the $53 million diverted last year.

"It is highly concerning that we're still facing cuts, especially if those cuts mean teachers," said Councilman Leon Pinkett, vice chairman of the budget and appropriations committee. "Some of the high schools will be hit particularly hard, so I'm extremely concerned."

The job cuts would mean a third straight year of layoffs in the school district, though cuts in recent years did not include teachers.

Layoff notices will be sent to affected teachers and administrators by June 1, officials said.