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Baltimore education advocates make plea for more money

Education advocates called on Gov. Larry Hogan Thursday to send more money to Baltimore schools.

Standing outside the gate of the governor's mansion in Annapolis, members of the Baltimore Education Coalition said after a tough year in Baltimore, city students need all the help they can get.

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A good education is a "ticket out of poverty," said Del. Cheryl Glenn, a Baltimore Democrat.

"We still find ourselves begging this year to put the money back for our children," she said.

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Coalition members -- including the ACLU, the League of Women Voters and education groups -- are asking for a supplemental state budget that would include $25 million more for city schools.

Under the budget formulas for education, the city has not gotten more money from the state in recent years due to declining enrollment and lucrative tax breaks given to developers that artificially inflates the city's wealth. Part of the funding formula takes expected property tax revenue into consideration.

Lawmakers are considering a bill that would account for the tax breaks in the education funding calculations.

After the press conference, a spokeswoman for Hogan, Shareese DeLeaver Churchill, said education funding has risen to "historic levels."

"This year, every single jurisdiction will see an increase in per-pupil spending, including all public school students in Baltimore City," she said. "Educating our students and making sure they have every possible opportunity to succeed are the governor's top priorities and they will remain efforts the administration is committed to completely."

Hogan did provide extra money to other jurisdictions with declining enrollments -- Carroll, Garrett and Kent counties -- the advocates said. Churchill noted that those counties have had declining enrollment for five years and got a "one-time" increase. Baltimore's had only two years of enrollment declines.

"We're calling on the governor to treat all students equally," said Frank Patinella of the ACLU.

Twelve-year-old Kyre Allgood, a sixth-grader at Lakeland Elementary/Middle, stepped to the microphone and quietly said he's worried about teachers not having enough school supplies and after-school programs being cut.

"Some of us like to stay after school," he said.

In a letter to Hogan last week, advocates wrote that they think there's enough of a budget surplus to send extra money to city schools. They said they have not yet received a response.

As the advocates' press conference ended, participants spotted Hogan walking into the mansion and waved and held up yellow signs that read "Baltimore Education Coalition."

"Help us out, governor!" they called.

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Hogan waved back.

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