Baltimore School System Boosts Student Recruitment In An Effort To Offset Future Deficits

The Baltimore School System foresees deficits in its future that could scale upwards to $30 million a year by 2020. In an effort to maintain preserve state funding, school officials are intensifying student recruitment.

School officials submitted a “Financial Recovery Plan” to state lawmakers Tuesday. The 49-page plan outlined ways to improve the system’s financial standing, as student enrollments continue to steadily decline. The state awards funding to schools based on enrollment, leaving schools with low enrollment numbers struggling to stay afloat.

Earlier this year, CEO Sonja Santelises announced a $130 million budget deficit. City and state officials pledged to increase funding over the next three years by $180 million. The deal required school administrators to submit a plan that would show how they were going to address fiscal issues in the future.

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In three out of the last four years, city schools have experienced falling enrollment numbers and the state projects the trend will continue.

The city’s population has fallen to a near 100-year low due to smaller birth cohorts, according to the report.

In an effort to counteract these projections, city school officials are ramping up recruitment efforts. The teachers union partnered with school officials to initiate a door-to-door campaign this summer. They set out to fill pre-kindergarten seats, by urging parents of children who attended private schools to enroll them in Baltimore’s schools. They also recruited dropouts.

Parents sending their children to private schools and suburban public schools have had a major impact on Baltimore’s schools. Plans to improve education and place Montessori programs in some of Baltimore’s schools may help to entice parents to reenroll their children. A $1 billion construction initiative includes newly renovated and four new schools in Baltimore.

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