The Baltimore Education Coalition (BEC) is a partnership of more than 20 schools, organizations and religious institutions united by a mission and vision for public education in Baltimore City. The coalition organizes and mobilizes the Baltimore community, including organizations, parents, teachers, and students, and advocates for effective education reform policies and practices.
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The Baltimore Education Coalition is the leading voice for Baltimore City’s public schools.
The BEC’s mission is to ensure that all children in Baltimore City receive an excellent education. The BEC organizes and mobilizes the Baltimore community to advocate for adequate funding and effective education reform policies. Founded in 2009 to prevent cuts to state education funding for Baltimore City’s students, the BEC prevented a total of $23 million in cuts that year. The first and only coalition of its kind in the city, BEC brings together strong organizations with proven track records on education issues who work together to advocate for effective education reform policies and practices.
Each year the BEC continues to mobilize larger numbers of community members and cultivate new leaders through trainings, district nights and other events. In the 2009, 2010, and 2011 State Legislative Sessions, the BEC successfully pushed back tens of millions of dollars in proposed cuts to funding for Baltimore City Schools. In 2011, Governor O’Malley submitted a budget to the General Assembly that proposed to “flat” fund education through changes to the Thornton formula, the landmark funding formula adopted by the state in 2002 to ensure that every child, regardless of where they live, could receive an adequately funded education. The Governor’s proposal would have cut $15 million from the budget for City Schools, and millions more in future years. Through a strategic advocacy effort by the BEC, and an intensive campaign to educate and mobilize school communities to protest these proposed cuts, the legislative session ended with not a cut, but rather a $3 million increase in funding for City Schools.
In 2013, the BEC and its members united more than 3,500 parents, teachers, principals, and students with corporate and foundation leaders; the Mayor, City Council, and State Delegation; the school system, gubernatorial prospects, the Governor, and House Speaker to win approval of the single greatest investment in children in Baltimore’s history. House Bill 860 provides approximately $1 billion for the replacement or total renovation of 50 schools over the next five to six years. The measure came after years of hard work by BEC members and leaders in partnership with stakeholders across the state – including passage of the city bottle tax, BUILD’s campaign to engage corporate leaders in support of the plan, a summer study commissioned by the Maryland General Assembly and shaped by the ACLU, and the creation of Baltimore City Schools 10-Year Facilities Plan.
Adequate Funding for Rebuilding and Repairing School Facilities
Monitor and Support the 21st Century Building for our Kids Program
This program, funded by HB860, is estimated to generate approximately $1 billion in bonds to rebuild and fully renovate up to 28 school buildings – Phase I. Ensuring that this program is well managed and implemented, with robust community engagement, is critical to achieve the best outcomes for students. BEC is committed to securing funding for the 100+ school buildings that will not be touched by this first phase of funding – Phase II.
State School Construction Funding for Private Schools
In 2013, the state approved $3.5 million in funding for private and parochial schools. BEC believes that public funds must be spent on public schools, especially given the high need for infrastructure improvements statewide.
Protect Annual State School Construction Funding
The State Capital Improvement Program (CIP) is indispensible for making critical repairs and improvements to the 100+ city school facilities that are not covered by Phase I of the 21st Century Buildings program. Each year, City Schools submits dozens of systematic projects – repairs and replacements of old roofs, broken boilers, faulty fire alarm and sprinkler systems – to the state for CIP funding. BEC advocates for City Schools to get its fair share of funding – 11-12% of the total state capital budget for school construction (average of $38 million annually over the past 9 years).
Protecting State Education Operating Funding
School funding is the foundation for the success of our students and Baltimore City’s schools depend on state funding for 70% of their budget. There is a looming threat to education funding: the General Assembly is facing a $300 million gap in FY 2015 and a $525 million gap in FY 2016 between state revenue and state spending. BEC opposes any cuts to state education funding as means for balancing the state budget. We are committed to ensuring that the state education operating budget is fully funded, including the inflationary factor and Geographic Cost of Education Index (GCEI).
Adequacy Review of Education Funding in Maryland
The state education formula was established in 2002 to give school districts enough funding to fulfill the mandate of an adequate education for all public school students in Maryland. The Maryland State Department of Education is conducting a review of the existing formula to ensure it still meets that mandate. BEC will ensure that the needs of Baltimore City’s students are considered in the review of the statewide education funding formula.
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