21st Century Schools Building Program

Baltimore’s school system has embarked on an ambitious project to renovate, replace and combine dozens of the oldest schools in the state over the next four years.   

The $1 billion effort aims to shutter and combine dozens of schools and renovate or replace at least 23 – all by the spring of 2021.  

A 2012 report by the Jacobs Project Management Company, a consulting firm, found that 85 percent, or 138 of the schools are in “poor” or “very poor” condition.

A power issue at Baltimore City schools headquarters on North Avenue has knocked the system’s web site off line and snarled some plans for final exams.  

School employees, who wouldn’t give their names, say some teachers can’t get into the online tools they need to administer finals and two teachers said there were delays in administering Maryland’s High School Assessments or HSAs due to internet issues.

Headquarters school employees say the power went out at about noon yesterday, forcing them to evacuate the building through dark stairwells without the aid of an intercom system or emergency lighting.




This spring every third grader in the city received a colorful, graphic textbook thanks to the work of graphic designer and educator Becky Slogeris.     

On a rainy day, Ms. Heather Tuttle’s third grade social studies classroom at Lake Montebello Elementary in Northeast Baltimore, reads from a book written just for Baltimore City kids.


"Jane Jacobs was a writer and thinker about cities," Tawnaja Hilton reads. "Jane did not learn about cities from books or schools. Instead she learned about cities by watching people use them in every li- in everyday life."


The students in groups. They all have their own copies of My Baltimore Book . It’s about the size of a short novel -- A mix between a textbook, journal and photobook.


Liz Phillips// Flickr Creative Commons


The Daisy pellet gun 14-year-old Dedric Colvin was carrying when he was shot by police last week looks just like a real Beretta automatic pistol, which has led many to wonder why a youngster would have such a gun.

At a press conference the day after the shooting, Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said the gun in Colvin’s hand so closely resembled a real one you’d have to look down the barrel to know difference. And he wondered, "what is a 13-year-old doing with one of these in his hand?"

12 year old Mannie Thames had an answer: "I think it’s a cool, and I think he kind of cool…"

He's talking about a neighborhood friend who has a BB gun. He says his friend has it because that’s what he’s seen people do on the streets. And Mannie has had a few BB guns of his own over the years too. He says a lot of people want them: 

"Sometimes people get bullied a lot, and they want to have something to protect theirself.  And sometimes people think it’s cool and they want to shoot people for fun."


Thornton is leaving and his successor was picked quietly

May 4, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns / WYPR

The Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners announced Tuesday that Dr. Gregory Thorton will leave his post as schools CEO on Friday. But the move has been in the works for months.

Marnell Cooper, chairman of the school commissioner board, said the search was conducted quietly so the school system would not be distracted.

The board named Dr. Sonja Santelises, a vice president at The Education Trust - a non-profit that focuses on achievement gaps – in Washington, D.C., to replace Thornton.  She is to take over July 1. Tammy Turner, the school system’s general counsel since 2006, will be acting CEO in the interim.

Jonna McKone

Public universities that serve low income students have struggled for years with low graduation rates.  Historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, including those in Maryland, face this problem especially acutely.

Three Coppin State University students, all in their mid-twenties, sit in their student union talking about the challenges of working toward a bachelor’s degree. 

"My name is William Lessane. I am 27 years old. Technically at Coppin I’m a sophomore but right on the cusp of being a junior. I am from Baltimore City, Park Heights - West Baltimore area. To be honest with you, I’ve been in college for 10 years on and off. I’ve struggled in trying to achieve the associate’s degree. Now, I’m finding new struggles in trying to achieve the bachelor’s degree."

Jonna McKone

If there’s one thing all the Democrats running to be Baltimore’s next mayor agree on, it’s universal pre-k.

Thousands of Baltimore City eighth graders found out last week whether they got into the high school they hoped to attend, or whether they’re going somewhere else next year. Same thing for fifth graders applying to middle schools. The policy is called school choice. In the first of a two-part series, we look at what is and isn’t working with school choice.

The theory behind school choice is that where you live shouldn’t dictate where you go to school. Just because you’re growing up in a poor area, you shouldn’t be limited to a badly performing neighborhood school.

Baltimore’s schools started their choice program in 2002 and during that same period began closing troubled schools and creating smaller high schools with specialized focuses.  The idea is to allow students and families to select the school that best fits them.


Nearly 400,000 Maryland students qualify for free or reduced price lunches, about 45 percent of all students. Now schools across the state are trying to expand programs that connect those students with free breakfasts as well.

John Lee

Baltimore County School Superintendent Dallas Dance will remain on the job. The County Board of Education voted 10-2 Tuesday night to offer Dance a new four year contract. The "no" votes came from two new board members appointed by Gov. Larry Hogan, Ann Miller and Kathleen Causey.