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Announcements and Press Releases

Baltimore City Public Schools CEO Reaches Historic Milestone

BALTIMORE – Baltimore City Public Schools (City Schools) CEO Dr. Sonja Brookins Santelises is now the longest serving leader of the school district in more than 30 years. On Tuesday, July 5, 2022 in the Rotunda of City Hall, Mayor Brandon Scott recognized the accomplishments achieved during Dr. Santelises’ leadership over the past 6 years. 

“She inherited a job that came with many challenges, but no instructional manual,” Mayor Scott said. “But her talent, enthusiasm, experience, and passion for students and families is clear. And our school district is better for it.”  

Mayor Scott was joined by many civic leaders including Johnette Richardson, chair of the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners; Senate President Bill Ferguson; Del. Maggie McIntosh, chair of the Maryland House Appropriations Committee; state Sen. Corey McCray; Del. Stephanie Smith; and pastors Ben Abell, Toni Draper and Matt Stevens. 

Board Chair Richardson noted that Dr. Santelises has encountered several unprecedented challenges as CEO.  

“She learned to navigate through these uncertain times while still finding creative ways to serve our students and staff,” Ms. Richardson said. 

The announcement was a surprise event for Dr. Santelises, who was told the press conference was in support of City Schools Summer Learning programs. As an example of her passion for students, families and staff, she still pushed for enrollment and promoted the activities available during the Summer Session after thanking everyone including her husband and daughters. 

Dr. Santelises then received proclamations from the General Assembly and the Mayor. 

Civic leaders shared many of City Schools’ successes during the event: 

  • City Schools opened 6 new school buildings in 2021 through the 21st Century program and City Schools initiatives at a pace not seen previously in the city. 
  • As of Spring 2022, 98 schools have implemented an extended learning program; the goal is for all schools to implement a program in the 2022-23 school year. 
  • At least 10 additional high schools will adopt the pre-AP curriculum – courses designed by the College Board to prepare 9th and 10th graders for AP classes later in their high school career. 
  • The number of Advanced Placement course sections increased from 229 to 252 with a corresponding increase of 284 seats. 
  • For the first time, students identified as gifted were able to take Gifted and Advanced Learning programs at every school in the district this year, fulfilling a key component of the City Schools 2020 Gifted and Advanced Learning policy.

Sen. Ferguson pointed out some of the improvements made early in Dr. Santelises’ career, including tackling a lack of air conditioning and poorly functioning heating systems.  

“There were 75 schools without air conditioning in 2017. Today, 18 schools remain as we near the completion of the plan,” Sen. Ferguson said.