Mandated 'corrective actions' to cost city schools $1 million

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Complying with the state's directive to improve low-performing city schools or be sanctioned will cost the Baltimore school system more than $1 million this year, officials said last night.

At a board meeting, interim schools chief Bonnie S. Copeland explained the early details of a plan designed to meet the terms of a section of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which requires states to impose structural reforms on districts that have a high percentage of failing schools.

Baltimore is the only school district in Maryland to be designated in need of such reform, called "corrective action."

State schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick identified in July six reform measures for the city system to begin to tackle this school year. Implementing the recommendations will cost at least $1,056,720 this year, Copeland said.

Grasmick is requiring the system to undergo an audit of its curriculum to ensure that it is in accordance with state standards. Hiring an external auditor will cost at least $300,000 initially, Copeland said.

Ensuring that all city teachers are "highly qualified" by the 2005-2006 school year will cost an initial $150,000. And establishing a cluster of low-performing high schools that would report directly to Copeland will cost $473,434.

Finding money for the plan in the cash-strapped school system will require reallocating funds in this year's budget, Copeland said.

"We knew when we got [Grasmick's letter outlining corrective action] that we would have to adjust our budget," Copeland said.

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