Backed by two City Council members and a state delegate, and armed with a videotaped promise from a 2003 board meeting, the Waverly community implored the Baltimore school board yesterday to restore funds cut from its neighborhood school's budget.
Representing residents, Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke contended that the board was breaking a promise made two years ago that it would provide the needed resources if Waverly Elementary/Middle School were established.
"Put the money back, please," Clarke said. "We have faced one cut after another."
The board decided to review what its former members promised two years ago and talk with the community within the next two weeks about fulfilling those commitments.
The controversy began in 2003 when the school board began moving pupils graduating from Waverly Elementary School to the new middle school in Waverly, rather than to Roland Park Middle School where they had previously been sent. The decision in 2003 to create Waverly Elementary/Middle School came with conditions.
Yesterday, the board watched the tape of the board meeting from April 29, 2003, in which members - most of them no longer serving - promise to support the new school with funding and resources.
"There are just two things that I think we need to hold this board and the system accountable" - facility dollars and an academic program as strong as Roland Park's, former member Colene Y. Daniel was shown saying.
"I want this signed in blood," she adds, in a statement that drew gasps last night from the current members.
Chief Academic Officer Linda Chinnia said last night that the $100,000 cut from Waverly's operating budget was related to funding cuts systemwide for special programs that were discontinued.
But Del. Curtis S. Anderson, a Baltimore Democrat also speaking for the community, said a cut in funding would mean the board was breaking its word. Backing Anderson was City Councilman Kenneth N. Harris Sr.
"What then does your word mean?" Anderson said. "I'm not chastising the board ... but perhaps you just need a gentle reminder."
In other action, the board approved contracts for what will be the first four charter schools in Baltimore under a state law passed in 2003: Collington Square School, City Springs School, Hampstead Hill Academy and Southwest Baltimore Charter School.