From a Portfolio Review to an Annual Review of Schools
City Schools’ primary goal is to make sure that every student has high–quality educational experiences that support their learning and their personal growth where our students will thrive and graduate from our high schools with the skills, knowledge and understanding to succeed in college, careers, our community and wherever their dreams will take them.
For over a decade, City Schools has used a “portfolio” strategy to review, discuss, plan, and implement recommendations for physical and programmatic developments that best foster student learning and professional growth and have called this process “Portfolio Review.”
Words can be important indicators of what we value. While numeric data is an important component, consideration of the qualitative and lived experience of our school communities is essential to co-create quality schools for every child. Given we value a holistic approach we have decided not to call this process “Portfolio Review” any longer and for now are calling it the “Annual School Review”. We have also continued to expand and shift the review process to be more inclusive and centered in the communities we serve. To learn more about this – place read the Annual Review Report linked below.
The Annual Review results in a set of recommendations to the Board of School Commissioners each fall that can include:
- Creating new traditional schools
- Relocating schools
- Changing grade configuration at schools
- Renewing contracts or charters for schools run by external operators
- Amending the 21st Century Schools Buildings Program
- Closing schools
To see this year’s recommendations, please review the summary table below and select the Annual Review Report link for details on this year’s process, ongoing work of the district that impacts all of our schools, and reports for COMAR recommendations (or recommendations that are for closure, surplus, or relocation).
On January 12, the Board of School Commissioners voted on the 2020-21 Annual Review Recommendations Report. A summary of the recommendations and votes appears below (mobile/PDF version). The vote for the recommendation to surplus the West Baltimore Building has been postponed to the March 9, 2021 Board meeting.
The Board of School Commissioners issued a written report documenting these decisions on February 11, 2021. The report can be found on this webpage and at each of the closing schools below. Members of the public can appeal these decisions in writing to the Maryland State Board of Education within 30 days of the date of the report, February 11. Appeals can be sent to Office of the Attorney General, Maryland State Department of Education, Attn: Jackie La Fiandra/State Board of Appeals, 200 St. Paul Place, 19th Floor, Baltimore, Maryland, 21202.
On January 12, The Board of School Commissioners also received an addendum to the Annual Review Recommendations Report for one additional building surplus recommendation – the Winston building – in summer 2021. The Board will accept written comment or data on this recommendation until 5:00 p.m. on Friday, March 5, 2021. Written comment must include full identification of the sender and should be directed to the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners, 200 E. North Ave., Room 406, Baltimore, Maryland 21202, or sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Board anticipates voting on this recommendation on Tuesday, March 9, 2021.
|School / Building||Program Recommendation||Building Recommendation||Final Report (For Board Decisions on closures, surplus, and relocation)||Community Letter/Board Decision||Board Vote|
|Closures and Building Surplus|
|Alexander Hamilton Elementary||Close effective Summer 2021||Surplus in Summer 2021||Report (page 8)||Letter||Approved
Absent – 2
Opposed – 0
|Guilford Elementary/Middle School||Close effective Summer 2021||Surplus in Summer 2021||Report (page 14)||Letter||Approved
In favor- 7
Absent – 2
Opposed – 0
|Lockerman Bundy Elementary School||Close effective Summer 2021||Surplus in Summer 2021||Report (page 21)||Letter||Approved
In favor – 8
Absent – 1
Opposed – 0
|School Relocation and Building Surplus|
|Lois T. Murray Elementary/Middle School||Relocate program to renovated 21st Century Walter P. Carter building||Surplus in Summer 2021||Report (page 27)||Letter||Approved
In favor – 8 absent – 1
Opposed – 0
|School Relocation, Grade Reconfiguration, and Building Surplus|
|Sharp-Leadenhall Elementary School||Expand grade bands from grades 1 to 5 to 1 to 8 and relocate program to renovated 21st Century Harford Heights building||Surplus in Summer 2021||Report (page 34)||Letter||Approved
In favor – 8
absent – 1
Opposed – 0
|Harriet Tubman building||n/a||Surplus in Summer 2021||Report (page 41)||Letter||Approved
In favor – 8 Absent – 1 Opposed – 0
|West Baltimore building||n/a||Surplus in Summer 2022||Report (page 47)||Letter||Postponed; Board will vote on March 9|
|William C. March building||n/a||Surplus in Summer 2021||Report (page 44)||Letter||Approved
In favor – 8 Absent – 0 Opposed – 0
|Winston building (new recommendation shared 1/12/2021)||n/a||Surplus in Summer 2021||Report addendum||Walter P. Carter Community Letter
Winston Community Letter
|Board will vote on March 9|
|21st Century Building Plan Amendments|
|Northwestern building||n/a||change surplus date from 2021 to 2025||n/a||---||Approved
In favor – 8 Absent – 1 Opposed – 0
|School||School/Building w/Related Recommendation||Final Report (for Board decisions on closures, surplus, and relocation)||Community Letter/How to Engage|
|Calverton Elementary/Middle||Alexander Hamilton Elementary
West Baltimore Building
|Report (page 8)||Letter|
|Harford Heights Elementary||William C. March Building||Report (page 44)||Letter|
|Harlem Park Elementary/Middle||Lockerman Bundy Elementary||Report (page 21)||Letter|
|James Mosher Elementary||Alexander Hamilton Elementary||Report (page 8)||Letter|
|Mary Ann Winterling Elementary||Lockerman Bundy Elementary||Report (page 21)||Letter|
|Walter P. Carter Elementary/Middle||Guilford Elementary/Middle||Report (page 14)||Letter|
|Program Relocation||Elementary Middle Alternative Program (EMAP)||Relocate to the Professional Development Center for school year 2021-22|
*Additionally, the CEO is considering relocating the Elementary Middle Alternative Program (EMAP) to the Professional Development Center building for school year 2021-22. EMAP serves as a temporary placement for students who require specific services based on identified student needs (i.e. drug and alcohol counseling, juvenile reentry, etc.) and serves as an Alternative Educational Setting(AES) for suspended students requiring special education services, as well as provides students in grades 6-8 who are two years’ overage the opportunity for acceleration. It is currently located in east Baltimore in the Wolfe Street Portables; the land for which the portables are housed is under the control of the East Baltimore Development Incorporated who has plans for the land. Because this is a program, not a school, this relocation can be made at the CEO’s discretion and does not require approval by the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners.
For reports prior to 2016-17, contact the New Initiatives department.
What factors are considered when making recommendations about schools or programs?
For traditional schools, the Board must consider 8 factors: student enrollment trends; age and condition of school buildings; transportation; educational programs; racial composition of student body; financial considerations; student relocation; and impact on community in geographic attendance area for school proposed to be closed and school or schools, to which students will be relocating. For more information please read the Annual Review Report linked above. Charter and other operator-led schools go through a separate review prior to renewal of contracts with external operators. For more information on this process see “Charter and Operator Renewal” section below and the Annual Review Report linked above.
What kind of recommendations are made about school buildings?
Recommendations about buildings can include things like moving a school to another facility or returning an unused building to the city of Baltimore. Factors including whether schools are too crowded, have low enrollment and are under-utilized, and building condition are considered. Frequently, these types of recommendations are related to the 21st Century School Buildings Program.
Outside operators receive term-limited charters or contracts to run charter or other operator-led schools, generally for three, five, or eight years. As part of the routine management of these schools, an evaluation (called renewal) that starts in the penultimate year of the contract or charter and ends in the winter of the final year of the contract leads to a decision on whether to renew the contract or charter for a subsequent term.
The process starts with a review by the Charter and Operator-led Advisory Board, whose members represent foundations, nonprofit organizations, school choice advocates, school operators, and district representatives; and whose function is to provide advice to the CEO on renewal and other issues as they relate to operator-led schools. In performing its review, the Advisory Board looks at all data and information, both quantitative and qualitative, to make sound recommendations to the CEO. After its review of the components above, the Advisory Board makes recommendations to City Schools’ CEO on whether charters or contracts should be renewed. The CEO considers the recommendations and the quantitative and qualitative review, and then makes her own recommendation to the Board. The CEO then makes the official recommendation that goes to the Board.
The ultimate decision on all operator renewals rests with the Board, which considers the recommendations and rationale of the CEO, the operator renewal report, testimony given at public Board meetings and work sessions, the contents of the official record and the factors listed in policy IHBJ and administrative regulation IHBJ-RA for charter schools, and policy FCA and administrative regulation FCA-RA for non-charter schools.
The review process has the following components:
An overall finding of not effective in any of the key areas (Student Achievement, School Climate, or Financial Management/Governance) may be the basis of a non-renewal decision. In some instances, the nature or severity of an issue raised during the renewal process is serious enough to give it extra weight in formulating the renewal recommendation and, ultimately, the renewal decision, especially in instances where the issue affects the wellbeing of students, staff, or the district as a whole. For the Financial Management/Governance section, a rating of not effective in any one of the three elements that make up that section results in a rating of not effective for the entire section.
The Renewal Stakeholders Working Group (including school operators from a range of school types, City Schools staff, and representatives of the Maryland Charter School Network) met regularly in 2011-12 to advise on development of a fair, transparent, and rigorous evaluation process and rubric to reflect the unique nature and contributions of schools with outside operators. Since that time, district staff confer with key stakeholders following each renewal period to identify areas in which the process could be strengthened while also maintaining a level of predictability for schools up for renewal in the following school year.