The below-freezing temperatures that plagued the eastern seaboard in early January have been especially burdensome for Baltimore, Maryland. Three public schools in Baltimore (Baltimore City College High School, National Academy Foundation High School and Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary/Middle School) were forced on Tuesday to dismiss their students early because of inadequate heating systems that were not functional.
Other Baltimore public schools are also reporting heating problems.
Most Baltimore school officials did not notice the lack of heat in the schools until the students voiced their concerns via Twitter, even though they were wearing winter clothes in the classrooms.
City Bloc, a political grassroots collective of students, tweeted these photos to raise awareness about the lack of heating in school.
It is no secret in Baltimore than many older schools in poorer districts use antiquated heating and air conditioning systems. These schools try to save whatever little funding they have by turning off the heat at night in old buildings, but it takes a long time for the schools to heat up again in the morning.
During the hot months, students in Baltimore were forced to dismiss early because some schools lack air conditioning.
It is well documented that students in impoverished school districts could experience diminished learning opportunities as a direct result of inadequate school facilities, including a lack of heat or air conditioning.
How can Baltimore fix this heating crisis in the schools?
"It's a challenge to take notes when you're wearing gloves," said David Pontious, a senior at Baltimore City College, to Baltimore Brew. "If we had leaders more invested in the city we wouldn't have these problems at all."
The key for local officials in Baltimore and for state officials in Maryland is to get more funding to the public schools so that they could at least get sufficient heating and air conditioning. Finding that additional funding might be easier than anticipated. Poorer school districts in Maryland already receive fewer dollars per student than affluent districts in the state. Therefore, by shifting dollars in the state, Maryland can provide funds for school heating in Baltimore.