A day before Baltimore City School officials withdrew a controversial charter school funding plan, City Councilman Bill Henry introduced a resolution urging Baltimore City schools to reconsider it.
“At the September 22 meeting of the Board of School Commissioners, the proposal for a new revenue-based approach to funding charter schools was withdrawn,” read a message posted to the school board’s website on Sept. 23. A scheduled Sept. 26 forum for public comment was also canceled.
According to a plan recommended earlier this month by city school officials, charter schools would receive funds based on the number of students they serve. At the September 21 city council meeting, Henry said that plan would negatively impact 26 charter schools in the city.
“The answer is not to hurt schools that are doing well,” he said. He called the proposal “flawed.”
The Baltimore Sun reported that University of Baltimore president and former mayor Kurt L. Schmoke will help school officials and charter schools find a middle ground.
Eight charter schools filed legal action over the funding plan. A ninth, Brehms Lane Elementary, was also included in the suit, although the school will not officially become a charter school until next year.
Baltimore City Schools CEO Gregory E. Thornton defended the plan in a Sept. op-ed for the AFRO.
“City Schools must allocate its resources equitably and in accordance with state and federal law to meet the needs of all students, whether they attend charter or non-charter schools. Particularly in these days of state funding cuts when all schools could use more, we are challenged to ensure that budget allocations are made in such a way that no school benefits at the expense of another,” he wrote .
“While the proposed formula it includes would change funding for some of the district’s 34 charter schools in amounts (positive or negative) sufficient to affect programming, district staff proposed that, if pursued, the approach would be implemented through a transition plan to mitigate its effects.”
Also at the meeting, City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young introduced a charter amendment calling for the creation of a fund specifically for the city’s young people.
Young outlined the details of the amendment, which he called the Children and Youth Investment Act of 2015, in a press release sent out earlier that day.
The legislation would require that three-percent of the city’s budget be placed in a non-lapsing fund every year. It would also require that city leaders figure out a way to assess what the city’s young people actually need. Finally, it would establish what types of programs would be eligible for the money, how the money could be used and ways to collect data on the programs that receive the money.
At the same meeting, Councilman Brandon Scott introduced a bill asking lawmakers to look into the possibility of establishing a single identification system for city youth.
Scott said the identification, which he called a One Card system, was similar to systems already used in major cities like Boston and Washington, D.C. He said it could make accessing city services easier for city children while also making it easier for officials to track the kinds of things they like to do.
The investigative hearing would examine Washington D.C.’s one card system and figure out the cost of establishing a similar system in Baltimore City.