Last year, Maryland lawmakers approved a budget allocating $21,000 for per-pupil spending.
The increased funding was $230 million more than the prior year and ballooned the Baltimore City Schools budget to more than $1.6 billion.
Yet, despite having one of the largest education budgets in the entire country, students within the school system are still failing.
The latest state test results show that among 40 percent of Baltimore City high schools where the exam was given, not a single student scored proficient in math.
“This is educational homicide,” Jason Rodriguez, deputy director of People Empowered by the Struggle, a Baltimore-based nonprofit, told Fox 45 News.
After years of low test scores, Rodriguez is renewing calls for the resignation of Baltimore City Schools CEO Dr. Sonja Santelises.
“There is no excuse,” he said. “We have a system that’s just running rogue, and it starts at the top.”
Through a source in the school district, Fox45 obtained unredacted state test results for every school in the system.
The results were from testing that took place this spring. Fox45 found the following 13 schools had zero students who were proficient in math:
- Achievement Academy at Harbor City High
- ConneXions: A Community Based Arts School
- Coppin Academy
- Edmondson-Westside High
- Excel Academy at Francis M. Wood High
- Frederick Douglass High
- Joseph C. Briscoe Academy
- New Era Academy
- Patterson High
- Reginald F. Lewis High
- Renaissance Academy
- The Reach! Partnership School
- Vivien T. Thomas Medical Arts Academy
Even among the district’s five top-performing high schools, only 11.4 percent of students are proficient in math.
In addition to the $1.6 billion in state funding, Baltimore City Schools also received another $799 million in Covid relief funding, leaving state residents wondering what it is being spent on, since test scores remain low.
“So, it’s not a funding issue. We’re getting plenty of funding,” said Rodriguez. “I don’t think money is the issue. I think accountability is the issue.”
A statement provided by the school district to Fox45 says that education officials need more time to turn their schools around.
“Baltimore City Public Schools (City Schools) appreciates recent one-time and ongoing increases in funding from our community,” the statement read. “City Schools uses the funding to increase student achievement. Our complete 2023 Maryland Comprehensive Assessment Program (MCAP) math data paints a genuine picture of our progress.”
School officials added, “But make no mistake: these recent increases do not diminish or patch over years of chronic underfunding that has directly contributed to our current outcomes. That recovery takes an equal or more significant amount of time to remediate.”