Baltimore’s Public Schools

A recent poll conducted by WYPR and the Baltimore Banner revealed that many City residents give the school system a failing grade. Many of them say they’ve seen students endure deficient transportation, tolerance of bullying and violence and the inability to earn living wages.

But it’s not just a matter of bad actors. There are some fundamental problems with the system that need to be addressed.


The early schools of Baltimore had a very difficult existence. They were crowded and poorly maintained, with inadequate facilities for teaching. Students were often forced to study in rooms that formerly had been gas works, iron foundries, carriage shops or warehouses.

Commissioners fought to overcome prejudice against the schools and to gain community support. They also worked to establish a system of consolidated education. They promoted a curriculum that stressed the development of the true patriotic citizen and the inculcation of moral and spiritual values that were considered necessary to good character.

In the midst of this educational struggle, the schools remained caught in the maze of municipal politics. Commissioners who were not pawns of political bosses labored to improve the schools but were seldom able to achieve their goals. Educators were frustrated by budget appropriations that often provided for the minimum essentials. Constructive suggestions were often ignored and procrastination seemed to be the order of the day.


There’s a two-in-five chance that kids in Howard County will attend above-average public schools, and even better odds they’ll go to one of the top-ranked ones. But if you live in Baltimore City, that chances are much lower: Only a handful of its schools have received a five-star rating from the state.

In a city shaped by segregation, blockbusting and redlining, it’s not surprising that Baltimore City is home to some of the worst-performing public schools in Maryland. New rankings, based on a broader set of measures, help us figure out why.

Zippia provides an in-depth look at the details of Baltimore City Public Schools, including salaries, political affiliations, and employee data. This information is based on self-reported data from employees, as well as public and proprietary sources. It’s an invaluable tool for job seekers looking to get a leg up on the competition.


In Maryland, most children attend traditional public schools. These are free to attend, operated by local school districts and funded by taxpayers like you.

The Belair-Edison School is a zoned neighborhood public charter school open to students in PreK – 8th grades in Baltimore City. Students who live in the Belair-Edison School zone are automatically eligible to enroll and do not need to submit an application.

Out of zone students may apply to be placed at the school through a lottery process. Families wishing to apply for out of zone school placement should visit the ECT office (open MWF, 10a-2p) and provide the required documentation for consideration.

Elementary school students are assigned to their neighborhoods, but many families choose to apply to out-of-zone schools for the middle and high school years in a citywide choice process. Learn more about the choice process by visiting our Citywide Choice page. Parents can also get advice and support on choosing the right school for their child at Live Baltimore’s School Navigator.


As a city, Baltimore does not have the tax base to fully fund its schools. Instead, City Schools rely on a combination of local, state and federal funds to provide services for students.

In late 2003, City Schools discovered that they had a severe fiscal deficit, estimated at $54-64 million. Extensive layoffs took place and new controls were imposed to ensure that spending was more closely monitored. A loan from the city temporarily ended the deficit and a plan was put in place to pay it back over two years.

Today, the Mayor solely appoints the revamped “Board of School Commissioners” that oversees the system. It is led by CEO Sonja Santelises. Each school hosted a series of in-person and virtual Community Budget Forums to gather input and determine priorities. Decades of underfunding have led to large class sizes, a lack of guidance counselors and librarians and inadequate regular building maintenance. Until the schools are adequately funded, students will continue to suffer.

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