Baltimore public schools' heating crisis earlier this month was a "day of reckoning" for the system, the city, and the state said public schools CEO Sonja Santelises. The crisis, she said in an interview with WYPR Wednesday, exposed the truth that Baltimore city school buildings are less than functional. As many as 85 of public schools in the city suffered heating problems over the course of a week, leaving students needing to wear coats inside classrooms that hovered around 40 degrees inside.
Santelises was responding to weeks of anger from parents and educators, including at an impassioned board meeting last week. "Shame on us," Lacheryl Jones, parent and education advocate, told the school board. When school buildings are decrepit and need to close because of unsafe conditions, she said, "[the children] are being prevented access to one of the greatest weapons they will ever have in this lifetime: the weapon of knowledge and empowerment through education." And the heating issue in the schools is just the tip of an iceberg of structural issues that have persisted for years, parents, advocates, and some legislators say.