THE SKY IS FALLING!
Well, if you listen to some city residents, and lots of city school administrators, that’s what you’re hearing about the Evil Republican Governor’s budget with respect to state funding for city schools.
The Baltimore Sun does a nice job explaining why there is a $35 Million reduction. Fact is, it’s not because of The Evil Republican, it’s due to a formula that is more than a decade old. One, most likely, approved by the Democrats who control politics in Maryland.
Anyway, we’re hearing that this $35 Million cut is a catastrophe. That students won’t have books, that 400 teachers will lose their jobs, that crumbling schools will be unsafe. Having been a resident of Baltimore City, albeit one without children, I paid attention to the city schools, paid attention to the complete lack of accountability in leadership. Watched as they celebrated a 60% graduation rate. Watched as they lost millions of dollars.
Now, I’m a resident of Baltimore County, and I pay more attention to things here. I compare, and I contrast. You should, too. After hearing the uproar and panic about the funding cuts, I decided to spend a little time on my own. In about a half an hour, using search terms like ‘Baltimore City School Budget’ and Baltimore County School Budget’, and doing some math on a pad of paper, I discovered some fun facts.
- $35 Million represents 2.6% of the entire city school budget for 2014 (I could not find a 2015 budget). It represents a 3.5% reduction in state funds. I would suggest that if a reduction of 2.6% is a catastrophe, maybe you need to look at the leaders of the school system, but that’s me and my corporate background.
- The 2014 City School budget was $1,323,228,827
- The 2015 Baltimore County School budget is $1,561,487,499. That represents about a 6% reduction from 2014.
- There are 110,000 students in Baltimore County, and there are 85,000 students in Baltimore City. The Baltimore County budget is about $1,400 less per student. While objective school success measures are difficult, they do somehow graduate 84% of students, versus 68.5% in the City. (I’ve seen a $3,000 spending gap published, but my math doesn’t agree with that number. I suppose it may be due to how people look at capital budgets, which I have included.)
- Baltimore City, with 25,000 fewer students, spends $30 Million more on Administration. The County spends $1,300 per kid on Administration, the City spends $2,025. That’s roughly $700 per child more (that’s half the difference in spending, by the way.)
The bottom line is this: The administrators of Baltimore City Schools are proclaiming the sky is falling. Why? Because budget cuts put their jobs in danger. Budget cuts make citizens do what I did, and actually look at the numbers. They are lying when they say these cuts will have drastic effects on children, but that’s the only way to get parents upset enough to call their representatives to try to get more money.
Instead, perhaps the citizens of Baltimore should hold their elected leaders accountable. Perhaps someone should take a look at North Avenue, and find out why they need to spend $30 Million more than their neighbors for the administration of schools serving 25,000 less kids. Perhaps, just perhaps, some waste could be eliminated.
Anyone who thinks a 2.6% cut in funding for city schools should affect the day to day education of kids hasn’t looked at how the city schools are run. I’m pretty sure I could find 5% in that budget in a couple of weeks. I’d offer, but I’m not connected enough to get a job in City school administration.