This month, Baltimore's Board of School Commissioners fulfilled a commitment to making its budget more transparent ("Baltimore city school board to vote Tuesday on budget," May 2).

Baltimoreans for Educational Equity applauds the board members and staff of Baltimore City Public Schools for putting full-time equivalent positions (FTEs) for central office staff into the 2017 budget as BEE asked them to do in November.

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Why do these numbers, FTEs, matter?

Not all of the money in the city schools' budget goes to schools. Central offices control nearly half of the schools' $1.4 billion budget; principals control the other 52 percent.

District officials say that the largest expenditure at central offices is human capital: staff salaries and benefits. But central office FTEs were not in last year's budget.

So BEE parents, teachers, students and community members — who know how deep the needs are inside schools — asked: Who works at the central offices, and what do they do?

Community engagement and true democracy are essential to improving education for all of Baltimore's students. Now that the school system has provided FTEs — a critical step in allowing stakeholders to understand how system utilizes its resources — BEE members look forward to working in partnership with the community, the school board and the incoming CEO to further prioritize students' move toward equity.

Salimah Jasani and Kimberly Coleman, Baltimore

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