The Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc launched “Project Baltimore”, a special investigative unit, in late March 2017. The team is designed to investigate the Baltimore-Area Public Education system, examining its unique challenges, such as low graduation rates and high dropout rates. The school system spends about 16,000 per student each year for education purposes, the fourth highest in the nation.
Last week, Project Baltimore interviewed a retired teacher that spent the past 17 years of her life educating disadvantaged kids in Baltimore City schools. After retiring in January, Christine Bryant refuses to remain quiet.
“ I know I’m getting myself in trouble,” Bryant said, “somebody has to speak up.”
Bryant taught on average 32 students per class at Garrett Heights. Public school teachers are permitted to deduct $250 annually on their federal income taxes for classroom expenses. Bryant said she ended up going over this budget in just one month, since oftentimes there were no supplies for the children. She also said that some of her students did not have a desk to utilize during class, so some of them ended up sitting on tables. With shattered windows and plenty of mice feces to clean up, she kept a broom and mop on-hand at all times. Janitors were difficult to get, so she ended up cleaning her own classroom. There was no hot water in her classroom, as it was supposed to be utilized for science.
Internet outages lasted for days and during the winter months, the thermostat would malfunction, leaving her classroom without heat. With a $1.3 billion budget, one must question where the money is being spent.
Bryant said, “I think it’s a gross mismanagement of money.”
The Project Baltimore investigative team took their concerns to the Baltimore city Schools’ Chief Operating Officer, Keith Scroggins.
“I don’t think anyone would say it’s acceptable,” Scroggins said. “We live in an urban environment with urban challenges.”
According to Scroggins, who has been head of maintenance for 11 years, the challenges are old buildings and not enough financial resources to repair them. However, he said the situation has “slightly improved, but is still not close to where it needs to be.
“Our effort is to improve the condition of our schools. I think we’ve done that in the last 11 years, for sure. But there are issues at our schools that are not going to be resolved overnight,” Scroggins said.