Bill to ensure casino money boosts school funding passes Md. Senate

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Hundreds of teachers, parents, staff and students rallied in front of the Maryland State House to demand casino revenue is used to increase funding for schools.

The protesters did come a step closer to getting their demands met.

The state Senate approved the “Fix The Fund Act” on Monday night. The act calls for a constitutional amendment to be placed on the November ballot.

The bill has not yet been approved by the House of Delegates.

Hundreds of teachers from across Maryland gathered outside of the State House in Annapolis on March 19, 2018 to protest a lack of school funding. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Hundreds of teachers from across Maryland gathered outside the State House in Annapolis on March 19, 2018 to protest a lack of school funding. (WTOP/Michelle Basch) (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Teachers want a constitutional amendment to make sure that casino revenue in Maryland goes towards increasing school funding. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Teachers want a constitutional amendment to make sure that casino revenue in Maryland goes toward increasing school funding. (WTOP/Michelle Basch) (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Many participants wore red, jangled cowbells, and held signs with messages that included "Don't Gamble With Education", "We Need Step Increases Now", and "Don't Make Me Use My Teacher Voice!" (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Many participants wore red, jangled cowbells, and held signs with messages that included “Don’t Gamble With Education,” “We Need Step Increases Now,” and “Don’t Make Me Use My Teacher Voice!” (WTOP/Michelle Basch) (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
The Maryland State Senate did approve the "Fix the Fund Act," which calls for an amendment to the state's constitution be placed on the November ballot to ensure casino revenue is used for Maryland schools. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
The Maryland State Senate approved the “Fix the Fund Act.” The act calls for an amendment to the state’s constitution be placed on the November ballot to ensure casino revenue is used for Maryland schools. (WTOP/Michelle Basch) (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
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Hundreds of teachers from across Maryland gathered outside of the State House in Annapolis on March 19, 2018 to protest a lack of school funding. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Teachers want a constitutional amendment to make sure that casino revenue in Maryland goes towards increasing school funding. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Many participants wore red, jangled cowbells, and held signs with messages that included "Don't Gamble With Education", "We Need Step Increases Now", and "Don't Make Me Use My Teacher Voice!" (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
The Maryland State Senate did approve the "Fix the Fund Act," which calls for an amendment to the state's constitution be placed on the November ballot to ensure casino revenue is used for Maryland schools. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)

The Senate vote came not long after hundreds of teachers, school staff, parents and students marched around the statehouse in Annapolis in favor of the bill.

Many participants wore red, jangled cowbells, and held signs with messages that included “Don’t Gamble With Education,” “We Need Step Increases Now,” and “Don’t Make Me Use My Teacher Voice!”

“What do we want the General Assembly and the Maryland Governor to do? Fix the fund,” Maryland State Education Association President Betty Weller said.

2017 Maryland Teacher of the year, Sia Kyriakakos of Baltimore, said the promise that gaming money would help the state’s schools has not been fulfilled.

“Our schools remain underfunded, the budgets are getting tighter and our classrooms are overcrowded,” she said. “We are teaching, not baby-sitting here, people.”

Carissa Barnes is a special-education teacher at Stonegate Elementary in Silver Spring.

“We don’t have enough staff, or enough materials, or enough support to make sure that some of our students don’t fall behind,” she said. “Our kids need more.”

“More and more of our students are coming to us with emotional trauma and mental health issues that we know create a barrier to their learning,” Barnes said. “However, we are not seeing more counselors and psychologists and social workers being placed in our building.”

Monday was crossover day in Annapolis, the deadline day by which bill sponsors aim to get their legislation passed, by either the House or Senate.


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