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Baltimore Group Pushes Plan To Modernize City Schools

BALTIMORE (WJZ)-- Overflowing toilets, leaking roofs, even roaches. That's what some Baltimore City school students say they live with everyday. Now, they are pushing for change.

Andrea Fujii has more on a plan to fix city schools.

The group Transform Baltimore is pushing a plan to modernize all city schools within eight years. But parents, teachers and students say it couldn't come soon enough.

Gaping holes in the wall.

"The floors are cracked up. They're old."

Flooded bathrooms.

"It's disgusting. The toilets are falling apart."

And no heat.

"How are we supposed to learn in coats?"

Baltimore City schools students and faculty say they've had enough, and want improvements.

"We were able to pay for a Grand Prix race," Noel Green, principal of the Baltimore Freedom Academy, said. "So you mean to tell me we can't spend money to fix our schools?"

With $2.8 billion in renovations needed, Transform Baltimore is calling on city leaders for help.

The group plans to send 2,000 postcards to the mayor's office calling for a new revenue source for school construction.

They also want to adopt a financing plan to modernize schools. It includes leveraging annual construction funds for long-term borrowing, supporting local revenue expansion for school construction and an increase in state funding.

"What we're pushing for is a really big think outside of the box solution," said Bebe Verdery of Transform Baltimore.

And lawmakers are listening.

"We need to take one big jump for $2.8 billion, get it done in a short period of time and start in a good place for the future," Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke of District 14 said.

Students say they won't stop until that future is brighter for all their classmates.

"The students, we deserve more," Reonna Hestor, a senior at the Baltimore Freedom Academy, said. "We want more and we're going to continue to advocate until we get more."

The financing plan proposed by the group is modeled after a similar one used in Greenville, S.C., where they rebuilt 70 schools in just five years.

According to Transform Baltimore, 70 percent of city schools are in need of major renovations or replacements.

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