Republican Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland said on Friday that he was “outraged” at Baltimore City schools for allowing their facilities to fall into such disrepair that children were being educated in unheated classrooms.
Wednesday, the Baltimore Teachers Union sent a letter to Sonja Brookins Santelises, the chief executive officer of Baltimore City Public Schools, contending that students and teachers have recently endured dangerously low temperatures in buildings plagued by bursting boilers and drafty windows.
“Trying to provide a stable learning environment in these extreme conditions is unfair and inhumane, to say the least,” said Marietta English, the president of the union, in the letter published in The Baltimore Sun.
On Twitter, teachers and parents posted stories of their children’s struggles and others started fund-raisers for heaters and coats.
Update: yesterday we raised 8,000$ of our $20,000 goal to get space heaters and winter coats for the kids in the affected schools. Thank you to everyone that has donated so far. Let’s keep this going. School is closed today so I will be collecting items myself. pic.twitter.com/ryRbiJXuyt
— Aaron Maybin (@AaronMMaybin) January 4, 2018
The Baltimore City school board commissioners — some of whom are appointed by the mayor and some of whom are appointed by the governor — issued a statement claiming that the failure of boilers and maintenance is attributable to a complex funding situation, but Hogan said the blame is due to ineptitude and mismanagment.
Referring to school construction funding, Hogan said, “This is something we’ve been trying to address at the Board of Public Works in a bipartisan way.”
Calling out school officials in the city, Hogan said he was “as outraged as anyone in the state of Maryland, and we’re going to continue to try to hold them accountable.”
State lawmakers representing Baltimore City claim the high poverty rate in the city makes it impossible for the school system to fund upfront construction costs. According to Hogan, Maryland jurisdictions spend 50 percent of their budgets, on average, to support schools, and noted that Baltimore City allocates only 11 percent for schools.