Supporters of an ambitious plan to rebuild Baltimore's crumbling schools predict a large turnout Monday night when they gather in Annapolis for a rally in support of the plan, which faces an uphill battle to win passage in the General Assembly.
The Baltimore Education Coalition, a group that supports the $2.4 billion plan, said more than 2,000 people are expected to turn out for the event on Lawyers Mall outside the State House.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and city schools CEO Andres Alonso, the two main proponents of the plan, are expected to speak at the 6:30 p.m. rally. They will be joined by Mark Fetting, former chief executive of Legg Mason, representing Baltimore's business community.
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Supporters of the plan are backing legislation that would give Baltimore its annual allotment of school construction aid in the form of a guaranteed minimum amount of about $32 million a year for 30 years. Currently the amount varies but in recent years has been more than that amount.
Plan proponents say the guaranteed stream of money – combined with revenue from a city bottle tax — would allow a new school construction authority to issue $1.1 billion in bonds that would be used to finance the first half of a 10-year plan.
Frank Patinella, an education advocate with the Maryland American Civil Liberties Union, said the plan would replace the "Band-Aid approach" the school system current employs to maintain the state's oldest schools.
The bill is picking up support in the House of Delegates but has received a skeptical reception from Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller. Gov. Martin O'Malley has expressed interest in the plan but has yet to say whether he will support it.