Baltimore City schools CEO Sonja Santelises is prepared to lay off more than 1,000 employees, from classroom teachers to custodians, in order to close a $130 million budget gap. (Emma Patti Harris/Baltimore Sun video)
If Gov. Larry Hogan finds a way to help Baltimore fill every penny of the $130 million budget gap facing its schools, it will be too little too late ("Pugh confident Hogan will help Baltimore despite criticism," March 1). It will not make up for the damage done by his careless, ill-informed public comments about the schools and their fiscal management. Accusing the city schools of having "no fiscal accountability" and referring to them as an "absolute disaster" is inexcusable for our elected state leader — a man who has himself recognized Baltimore as the economic driver of our state. With these comments, Mr. Hogan will play up the stereotypes so common among those who reside outside of our city who believe, without any proof, that the city must be "wasting" their hard earned tax revenues. Governor Hogan's comments will make his own job — mustering the political capital necessary to raise the real capital needed to bridge the budget gap — more difficult both now and in the future.
Worst of all, the governor's claims are baseless. The city schools' budget gap is not due to waste and mismanagement, as clearly documented by the state's own Department of Legislative Services, which determined that they are under-, not over-, funded. Our school leaders have worked hard to close old, underutilized buildings. They have whittled down middle-level management, eliminated duplicate positions and pared down staff and support. Our principals and teachers work tirelessly to educate our kids and to provide a safe and supportive learning environment.
We cherish our schools and the people working hard to make them great. I am disgusted by the governor's comments. He owes the people of Maryland proof supporting his claims or, better yet, the truth about the Baltimore City Public Schools and their potential if funded properly. In addition, he owes the school system and the city an unequivocal public apology.