Toward the end of 2013, the Fund for Educational Excellence embarked on an intensive study of Baltimore residents’ views on their public schools. Over the course of four months in 2014, we heard from 859 Baltimore residents representing all 55 community statistical areas (CSAs) in Baltimore City through a series of intimate conversations about schools and neighborhoods.
In the Penn North/Reservoir Hill CSA, we heard from 15 participants. We held two ‘kitchen table conversations’ in this CSA, one at a private residence in Reservoir Hill on April 27, 2014 and another at John Eager Howard Elementary/Middle School in Reservoir Hill on May 19, 2014. Along with these conversations, we received some additional responses via an online survey. Of the 15 participants, 14 chose to submit at least some demographic data.
Some of the themes that we heard most often from participants in our discussions included:
- Participants discussed how schools should serve and help the community, and how they have the ability to be the center of the community. They discussed how a school can be a resource for parents and help to address community needs.
- There was conversation regarding district policies and practices. Participants suggested that the district should adjust the hours of the school day (it currently starts too early), and also that students should attend more school over the course of the year.
- Participants also discussed the need for more activities and programs for students. Some of the suggestions that participants made included implementing more art and recreational programs, as well as establishing more student mentoring programs.