Progressive Baltimore: Guess the value of the school district’s maintenance backlog

by DCG

In March this year, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh authorizedspending $100,000 to send 60 buses full of kids to the “March for Our Lives” anti-gun rally in DC.

Many noted at the time that the school district had a $130 MILLION budget deficit last year so the last thing they needed to be doing was wasting money to indoctrinate students against the Second Amendment. Yet the mayor persisted.

So along with a budget deficit, take a wild guess as to what the value is of the school’s maintenance backlog! Take a guess then guess again. Ready for the value?

According to the Baltimore Sun, the total value of the school district’s maintenance backlog is nearly $3 BILLIONThat’s more than double the district’s annual operating budget.

More from the Sun’s report:

“We do have the oldest school buildings in the state of Maryland. That can’t change from a quip or from a magic wand,” says city schools CEO Sonja Santelises. Addressing the backlog in repairs, she says, is “not going to happen overnight.”

It’s become a back-to-school tradition for politicians and community members to decry the lack of adequate air conditioning in Baltimore classrooms. The conditions, which forced dozens of schools to close early during the sweaty first days of the school year, led Gov. Larry Hogan and Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot to demand that all city schools be outfitted with AC in the next few years. That’s meant funding for air conditioning has taken precedence over other pressing projects.

The Baltimore school board approved a report this month that lays out the city’s complex needs. The 2018-2019 Comprehensive Maintenance Plan is clear: After decades of underinvestment, the city school system needs a dramatic infusion of money before its school buildings have a chance at being up to par.”

Read the whole Sun story here.

Granted, this financial crisis didn’t start under CEO Santelises. According to Wikipediathe crisis was first discovered in 2003 where it was believed they had a deficit of anywhere from $54 to 64 million. The district budget has been accused of having many errors and was not being monitored carefully.

And the school’s budget deficit has continued to climb to $130 million since 2003. This deficit, combined with the $3 BILLION maintenance backlog, equals a number that is more than the projected budget deficit of some 20 states.

Good luck Baltimore, you’re going to need it, along with some serious fiscal discipline.

DCG

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