Last week John Eager Howard, Child First, and RHIC joined Baltimore Education Coalition and 300 others for an action on the state grant capital funding bill. Parents, students, community groups, and city and state officials came together to learn more about the bill and build energy around the growing campaign to transform our schools through innovative facilities financing. Parent of a former John Eager Howard student, Arica Gonzalez co-chaired the action and introduced the evening:
"...And as I witness this phenomenal group of schools, congregations, and organizations represented here tonight, I am reminded that collectively we can achieve the highest of heights. I am reminded that the spirit of the people of this city is determined, and noble, and strong, and proud. And I am unsettled to the core to see that our infrastructure does nothing to reflect the lives that fill it..."
Then, kindergarten teacher, Leon Pryer, explained the background of the bill and facilities campaign:
- City school buildings are in a state of crisis 85% of BCPS school buildings are in poor condition
- Deficient school facilities negatively impact students and teachers Facilities impact academic achievement, absenteeism, graduation rates, and health.
- Current funding system to fix city school buildings is flawed Current funding levels are insufficient to fix schools and provide little more than a band-aid approach to repairs.
- There is a solution! It has been done before! Several U.S. cities have developed programs to fully rebuild their schools by using innovative financing that allows for large amounts of borrowing up front.
- State block grant is critical to acquiring the first billion of $2.4 billion need With a consistent funding stream, Baltimore can leverage the money they already receive from the State and City and build 60-80 schools now! Leveraging State and City dollars is like taking a mortgage out on your home.
- Our plan can transform Baltimore! -- The block grant helps to pay for renovation and replacement of buildings over 10 years so that every student is in a safe and modern school building. -- The block grant helps to create thousands of jobs for Baltimore residents.
- We need your help to transform our school buildings! --Work with others in the BEC to teach the Block Grant --Tell people about the Block Grant and its benefits for your community --Join us in Annapolis with a bus full in February!
After the introduction to the block grant, BEC invited those elected officials present to pledge their support for the bill by agreeing to make it their number one priority this legislative session.
Dr. Sonja Santelises, Chief Academic Officer for BCPS, and Verna Jones-Rodwell, Chair of the Baltimore City Delegation, shared their reasons for prioritizing the facilities campaign:
City Council members Mary Pat Clark and Bill Henry, school board members David Stone and Robert Heck, and state legislators Samuel I. “Sandy” Rosenberg, Mary L. Washington, Joan Carter Conway, Curtis S. Anderson, and William C. Ferguson IV also pledged their support for the bill.
Interested in getting involved with the facilities campaign at John Eager Howard?
Contact: Erin Bowman, firstname.lastname@example.org, (410)225-7547 --OR-- Jennifer McDowell, email@example.com, (410)396-0837