As Baltimore public schools face $129 million budget deficit, the Baltimore School for the Arts is reaching out to famous alumni to contact legislators and speak up publicly about the budget shortfall. The public school focuses on training musicians and actors, so it has many alumni.
An actor, who attended the Baltimore School for the Arts, Josh Charles, is the first to take up the cause. On Monday night, Charles tweeted about the funding problems faced by Baltimore public schools.
Charles said, “Watching people play politics with the education and lives of children is infuriating and reduced funding would be devastating for the city.”
Charles attended the Baltimore School for the Arts and made his film debut in 1988, scoring only a side role in Hairspray. However, the following year, he starred in Dead Poets Society, alongside Ethan Hawke and Robin Williams.
“I witnessed firsthand the impact the school can have on the lives of young kinds from the city,” he said. “BSA nurtures talented kids who otherwise wouldn’t have exposure to specialized arts training.”
State and city officials are seeking $180 million in funding for Baltimore schools over a three-year period. Advocates and parents are utilizing social media to reach out to Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan to close the school system’s $130 million budget gap. According to school officials, it may be forced to lay off 1,000 staff members without additional funding.
On Friday, Hogan said negotiations between the state and city was ongoing. Nearly 400 ninth-to-12th grade students are currently enrolled in the Baltimore School for the Arts, providing a traditional academic curriculum and arts education.
The Baltimore School for the Arts alone stands to lose $1.4 million, nearly 30 percent of its public funding, along with academic program cuts, in the coming year.