Mayor Rawlings-Blake Announces Major School Construction and Renovation Proposal
Monday Nov 14th, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Mayor’s “Better Schools Initiative” will increase City’s contributions to BCPS Capital Budget by 140%; $23 million more in annual funding could leverage over $300 million in bonding capacity.
Mayor says improved public schools are key for growing Baltimore.
Today, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced a detailed plan to significantly increase Baltimore City Government’s contribution to the Baltimore City Schools capital budget by more than $23 million annually by July 2013 in order to improve the physical condition of Baltimore’s aging school buildings for students and teachers. The combined package of proposed new revenue streams could leverage as much as $300 million in bond funding for school construction and renovation or could be pumped into shovel-ready projects as early as next year.
The plan, which will increase the City’s annual contribution by 140%, includes a variety of new revenue streams, including dedicating proceeds from a newly-proposed 5-cent beverage container fee, 10% of city revenues from the proposed Video Lottery Terminal facility land lease and by leveraging additional state funds from the City’s contribution to teacher-retiree healthcare benefits.
“Our students and teachers have made nation-leading progress reforming our schools system and improving academic achievement over the last few years. Now is the time to make the tough choices to support our students so every child in Baltimore can receive a quality public education,” said Mayor Rawlings-Blake. “Improving public education is absolutely necessary to attract new families to Baltimore and grow our city again.”
Beginning July 1, 2013, the Rawlings-Blake administration proposes allocating the following revenue streams for School Construction and Renovation:
- A new proposed 5-cent beverage container fee: the proposal exempts milk, juice, dairy substitutes and “economy size” containers 2 liters or larger in order to minimize burden on struggling families. With nonresident workers, tourists and other daily visitors also paying the surcharge, the proposal will generate an estimated $10 million annually for school construction and renovation.
- 10% of estimated city Video Lottery Terminal (VLT) Funds revenues from the proposed VLT land lease totaling $1.2 million.
- Leverage Retiree Healthcare Benefit Costs: An additional $12.0 million in State funding – through the re-appropriation of BCPS retiree healthcare costs that leveraged an extra $12 million in FY’12.
- Continue Annual Capital Contribution: The City will continue to contribute approximately $17.0 million in bond proceeds.
- Partner with City Schools to support General Assembly legislation to increase BCPS debt capacity with the State – increasing the current $100 million cap to $200 million for school construction projects.
- Support state legislation that would include a $50 million addition of school construction funds to the overall State pot of money from the alcohol tax.
- Continue “maintenance of effort” funding for City Schools and not seek a waiver with the State Board of Education.
- Oppose the shift of teacher pensions to local boards of education or local governments.
- Advocate against State budget cuts to education as we did in the 2011 legislative session and protecting additional funding to school systems with special needs through the Geographic Cost of Education Index (GCEI) funding.
- Support BCPSS’ Capital Improvement Program (CIP) request to the State.
- Support any efforts, legislative, regulatory or otherwise, to seek lump sum (block grant) appropriations to Local Education Agencies (LEAs) for school construction, which could possibility create opportunities for creative financing.
- Support City Schools to lead in the creation of a capital campaign to engage the private sector and foundation community in raising revenue for enhanced school construction and renovation.
The Baltimore City Public Schools System is challenged both by the oldest school buildings in the state of Maryland and a local tax base that is insufficient to meet the current and future funding needs of the school system’s construction and renovation plan. Baltimore City Public Schools System faces a major funding shortfall for school construction and renovation.
High quality school facilities have a measurable positive impact on rates of student learning, attendance, and graduation. Studies have shown that school facilities in poor condition contribute to lower student achievement and higher rates of absenteeism and dropouts. School facilities also affect a district's ability to attract and retain high quality teachers, which directly impacts student achievement. School facilities in poor condition can also pose threats to the health and safety of staff and students. View Better Schools Initiative Chart