Alonso, others ask that schools be spared from cuts

The Baltimore Sun

Baltimore schools chief Andres Alonso joined more than 400 parents, students and teachers last night as they asked city and state leaders to spare education from expected budget cuts.

The rally at Dr. Bernard Harris Sr. Elementary School was organized by the Baltimore Child First Authority, a division of the advocacy group Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development.

Child First has been hurt by city cuts this year. It lost $500,000 for its after-school programs, prompting the discontinuation of programs at Arundel Elementary/Middle and Gwynns Falls Elementary. Alonso found $117,000 in school system money to help programs at Westport Academy and Hilton Elementary. The four schools are located in violent neighborhoods with few recreational opportunities for youth.

Last night, Alonso pledged to give the group an additional $25,000, the maximum permissible without school board approval. Tony Geraci, the school system's food service director, committed $25,000 worth of snacks for the after-school programs. And officials from the nonprofit Playsmart Foundation said they would give $10,000 to offset the cuts.

Baltimore Sun reporter Annie Linskey contributed to this article.

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