Vote on massive school renovation plan set for Tuesday

$2.4-billion plan would close 26 schools

On Tuesday the Baltimore City School Board will vote on a massive plan to overhaul dozens of city schools.

The plan would take 10 years to complete, and cost $2.4 billion.

In all, 26 schools would close, including four at the end of the current school year.  Garrison Middle School in Northwest Baltimore is one of those; Linda Knight was hoping her daughter would have the same positive experience here as her son.

"At one point he wasn't good at reading and math and things like that, but since he's been here they have gotten his reading level up, his math level up," she said.

Supporters of the plan say the schools have been chosen carefully; Knight says that can't be the case for Garrison.

"I don't think it's a problem school because my kids haven't had any problems since they've been here. I think it's a great school," she said.

Meanwhile Jimmy Gittings, who leads the union representing some 600 principals and school administrators from the system is also critical.

"I'm making it very clear, that I will not and cannot support this 10-year plan," he said.

He says he's been promised that administrators from schools that close will be offered similar positions elsewhere.

But his concern as the school system attempts to secure the $2.4 billion -- much of it from the state – is a recent audit that revealed wasteful spending and mismanagement under schools CEO Dr. Andrés Alonso.

"They need to get their own house in order before they ask for any additional monies," Gittings said.

The school board is likely to approve the plan; it would then be up to legislators in Annapolis to begin discussing it, when their session opens on Thursday.

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