Building and Strengthening Neighborhoods and People

A Win for Waverly School

Waverly, Oakenshawe, and Ednor Gardens-Lakeside families are one step closer to getting the new Waverly Elementary/Middle School building they have been waiting for since 1998. On Tuesday, June 5, 2012, a groundbreaking ceremony was held on school grounds.

This new building represents a major victory for students and families who have long endured substandard school conditions. GHCC led and staffed an advocacy campaign that mobilized parents, residents and partners to demand an adequate school building, finally winning a state commitment in 2009 to fund a $22 million new building.  The new facility—a bright, nurturing, inspiring space that will model urban sustainability with LEED silver certification and green roof spaces—will be built behind the existing elementary school building.

Key partners in the advocacy campaign were Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke who championed the campaign for the new building and Delegate Maggie McIntosh, who provided critical help. Providing incredible support were the neighborhood associations: Waverly Improvement Association, the Ednor Garden-Lakeside Civic Association and the school’s faith partner, Cathedral of the Incarnation.

“Our efforts show that when the community unites to advocate for its school, great things can happen. We are thrilled that Waverly will finally have the kind of school building it deserves.” said Karen DeCamp, GHCC’s Director of Neighborhood Programs. “GHCC is committed, as part of the campaign to Transform Baltimore to continuing to advocate for modernizing schools citywide. A whole city of new and renovated schools will help us attract and retain families in city neighborhoods.”

GHCC staff and school principal Michele Ferris are leading a planning process over the next year to build quality programming, including selecting a new Advanced Academic program and build enrollment of families from Waverly, Ednor Gardens and Oakenshawe.

“The goal is to have a state of the art building and an excellent academic program that any family would consider a great choice,” said GHCC’s Executive Director Karen Stokes.

To see more images of the groundbreaking ceremony, visit us on Flickr.


GHCC and Baltimore Education Coalition Bring it to Annapolis

“Guilford first received a portable for our middle school, which was supposed to be a temporary facility, in 1971. We’re here, 41 years later, and things are the same.”

Guilford teacher Ted Smith testified to the poor conditions of his school in Annapolis on Monday, March 5, 2012, where  136 participants from the 43rd District on behalf of the Baltimore Education Coalition (BEC) to protect Baltimore City public school funding. Greater Homewood Community Corporation worked with Child First Authority and Waverly School activist Joan Stanne to organize this empowering BEC District 43 Night.

Students, teachers and community members traveled from Baltimore City to Annapolis to urge lawmakers to support bills vital for school funding. City College student N’della Seck, Barclay 8th grader Devon Edwards, and Northwood grandparent Benjamin Dubose also described dilapidated school buildings with crumbling ceilings and toxic water pipes.

“If you want to provide an education that produces scholars that can compete, then why not give us facilities that are conducive to that level of scholarship?” Smith said. “More funding needs to be on the front end rather than the back end.”
 
BEC advocates for Transform Baltimore, a campaign to renovate and modernize all Baltimore City public schools in poor conditions. To address the $2.8 billion need for school construction, the BEC is fighting to pass HB304/SB533, which would allow flexible use of existing school construction dollars to be leveraged in a way to enable large scale school renovations to solve the desperate facilities need.

Delegate Mary Washington publicly pledged to preserve the 1% Inflation Factor for school funding in the state budget, and wealth-equalize the proposed teacher pension shift to the City of Baltimore. She is also a sponsor of HB 304.

Students and leaders from Child First Authority, GHCC, Abbottson Elementary, Baltimore City College, Barclay School, Guilford Elementary-Middle School, Northwood Elementary, 901 Arts, Wide Angle Youth Media, Tunbridge Public Charter, Waverly Elementary-Middle, the League of Women Voters, and the Cathedral of the Incarnation mobilized in support of the BEC’s agenda for City Schools.


BEC Gathers a Crowd

Last night, teams of parents, grandparents, teachers, administrators, community members and nonprofit organizations – about 200 people in all – gathered together to join the Baltimore Education Coalition’s efforts to support schools in Baltimore City during this legislative session. The Digital Harbor High School filled with education advocates as they discussed initiatives and organizing strategy to support and ensure funding for education in Baltimore City. Greater Homewood Community Corporation (GHCC) is a BEC member organization and leader and we are invested in its success. GHCC organizes parents and staff at its six partner school and reaches out to involve and invest neighbors in the cause of City Schools. Last night GHCC brought 25 people to the event, who were briefed on the issues and split into legislative district teams to plan how they will work together during the January- April state legislative session. Everyone had a story of a crumbling school building or an underfunded school their child attends.

This year, the BEC is fighting for the necessary funding and resources needed to properly educate children. This includes preserving the Thornton inflation factor in the 2012-2013 state education budget and ensuring cuts do not get made in already thin City Schools budgers. In addition, the BEC is leading the Transform Baltimore campaign, a push to renovate and modernize all school buildings deemed to be in poor condition—which is over 70% of Baltimore City schools. To do so requires flexible funding for education at the city and state levels.

School teams met by district, planned the organizing strategy to advocate for education in Annapolis, and ended the night with specific goals and next action steps in hand.

The BEC campaign goals include:
(1) All Baltimore City public school students shall have a world class education
(2) New, fully-renovated, green and energy efficient school buildings for all Baltimore City school students, educators and school communities.
(3) The Baltimore City legislative delegation will be a unified force and strong advocate for Baltimore City Public Schools.

Visit www.becforourkids.org and www.transformbaltimore.org to join your District team effort!

Visit GHCC’s Flickr page to see more images from last night’s event.


Call to Action!

In 2003, GHCC was instrumental in gaining state funding for a new Waverly School building to replace substandard conditions that affect achievement. Along with Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, our staff, school staff, and community residents have been leading efforts to ensure that this new building is open and running by 2012.

Unfortunately, in June there was a delay around construction bids and as a result, no contract has been awarded. The School Board will meet on August 23 and we must join in the effort to URGE IMMEDIATE AWARD of the contract to a bidder.

“We are already behind schedule because of these delays,” says Councilwoman Clarke. “We were promised a fall 2012/ spring 2013 occupancy of the new school. The 2012/13 winter break is our best time to make the move. We can wait no longer or we will lose that window of move-in opportunity.”

Please join Councilwoman Clarke, GHCC staff, and fellow residents on Tuesday, August 23 at the Baltimore City Public School Headquarters, 200 East North Avenue, 1st floor Board Room. You must be present and sign up by 5:00 pm. The meeting will begin at 6:00 pm.

In the meantime, we are asking that you please email the School Board now schoolboard@bcps.k12.md.us to urge approval of a construction contract for the new Waverly Elementary/Middle School at the School Board meeting of Tuesday, August 23 at 6:00 pm.

Emails should begin with:

“Dear President Duke and Commissioners,”

and briefly explain how important it is to you to avoid further delays in awarding a contract. End with your name, address, connection with the school (parent, teacher, neighbor, or supporter).

If you have questions, please contact GHCC at 410-261-3500 or Mary Pat Clarke at marypat.clarke@baltimorecity.gov or 410-396-4814.

Thank you for your support!