(UPDATED 2:48 p.m.)—Education advocates, who just days ago gathered at Waverly Elementary School to celebrate $1.1 billion in new school construction funds, will begin pressing Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to keep what they say was a campaign promise to double funding for after school programs.
Advocates from various organizations, including the Charles Village based Greater Homewood Community Corporation, will push city council members to pressure the mayor to increase after school funding to $7.2 million at the City Council’s Taxpayer’s Night, 5 p.m., Thursday at City Hall, 100 N. Holliday St., according to a news release from Child First Authority.
"Mayor Rawlings-Blake publicly committed in August of 2011 to double funding for after school programs if elected. After proposing a cut last year, the Mayor found an additional $750,000 to increase total funding to $5.4 million for FY13. The FY14 budget does not include this additional $750,000. To keep pace with her commitment to double funding, the FY14 budget would need to increase to $7.2 million," the news release states.
Carol Reckling, executive director of Child First Authority, said that she feels this year advocates will be able to get the increased funding because there has been a broader base of schools, organizations and individuals than ever before fighting for increased support.
"This time its people turning to the city and saying 'OK we need to take care of our youth, we need to do what’s right for our youth,'" Reckling said.
But the Rawlings-Blake’s administration denies that she ever made a promise to double funding for after school program.
Ian Brennan, a spokesman for the mayor, said she responded to a questionnaire from BUILD in 2011, which asked for a yes or no answer regarding increasing spending on after school programs. He said the mayor answered yes, because it most closely matched her position, but also included a detailed answer explaining why that may not be possible.
"I think, over time, it would be great if we had the money. In the meantime what we’re trying to do is increase partnerships to expand after school programs now, and make them better," Brennan said.
He said the mayor has taken steps, such as expanding the number of recreation centers the city wants to build in its 10-year financial by six, that will help Baltimore improve and expand after school programs.
"In this case [education advocates] and the mayor are on different pages even though they’re working for the same thing," Brennan said.
However, Reckling said she knows what the mayor has promised.
“I heard yes, and so did the 400 people whop were there that day,” she said.