Rawlings-Blake: Past cuts enabled increased after-school funding
By Christina Jedra
The Baltimore Sun|
Jun 08, 2015 | 4:13 PM
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said Monday that cuts made in the beginning of her term allowed for $4.2 million in additional funding for after-school and summer school programs.
At a news conference at Carver Vocational High School, Rawlings-Blake thanked City Council members and other supporters for "being courageous."
"We had to make a number of difficult budget decisions," Rawlings-Blake said, referring to cost-cutting reforms in areas like the pension system and retiree health liability costs. "We wouldn't be in this position if we didn't have partners who knew what to do in tough times."
The funding is intended to bolster the ability of community-based organizations to offer support and administer grants to youth-related causes; add six schools to the after-school program of the Baltimore City Community Schools Initiative; and support the Family League of Baltimore in investing in after-school and summer programs for K-12 students in "underserved" communities.
Rawlings-Blake said she will continue to invest in youth programs "without leveraging our city's financial future."
In an email, mayoral spokesman Kevin Harris said Rawlings-Blake's 10-year financial plan helped free up funding.
"Thanks to the plan, we have been able to eliminate our short-term budget deficits and cut our $750 million structural deficit in half through key reforms to among other things our pension system and retiree health liability costs," he said. "By reducing costs in these areas, we have been able to make available more funding for initiatives like what was announced today."
City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young applauded the increased funding, citing the benefits of "out of school time" for students, like decreased absences and increased chances of moving to the next grade, according to research by the Baltimore Education Research Consortium.
"Folks, this is as close to a no-brainer as it gets," he said.
Jonathon Rondeau, president and CEO of the Family League, which is receiving the majority of the funding, estimated that the additional money will enable 1,200 young people to receive "out of school time" programming.
Rondeau said that the organization is in the process of choosing grantees and institutions needing assistance. Recipients will be chosen in part by an external review panel of "experts, community members, and elected officials" who will score applicants, Rondeau said.
"Our specific focus is high-quality grassroots organizations that traditionally have not received resources," said Rondeau.
The funding to the Family League will also help add six schools to the Baltimore City Community Schools Initiative, which provides additional support and resources to students. According to Rondeau, the new community school selections will be announced in the coming weeks.
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"I think one thing that everyone wants to know is that when money goes out, and programs are funded, that it's actually producing results," he said. "The research that the Family League has done with BERC has really shown that out of school time and community schools are making a difference to people."
Diane Bell-McKoy, president and CEO of Associated Black Charities, which will receive more than $1 million of the funding, said grantees have not been selected yet.
"We'll probably put together a committee to review the proposals," she said. "We want to make sure it's as transparent as possible. Inclusive and transparent."
Bell-McKoy said mentoring will also be provided to organizations that will be candidates for funding in the future.
"We'll do technical assistance with some other groups who may not be ready yet, in terms of infrastructure challenges and not knowing what they don't know," she said. "We want to help those groups get ready for future funding."