Kurt Schmoke, the former mayor and current president of the University of Baltimore, has informed Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's office he will no longer act as an intermediary in the charter-school funding debate, according to a report by The Sun's Erica L. Green.
One of Rawlings-Blake's spokespeople, Howard Libit, told The Sun that Schmoke decided "it's no longer a productive process going forward."
"He believes that the parties would probably benefit more from court-ordered mediation instead of the voluntary conversations that he's been trying to facilitate," Libit told The Sun. "The mayor is deeply appreciative of Mayor Schmoke's time and efforts."
Just before 4 p.m., Baltimore City Public Schools released the following statement:
"Today, Baltimore City Public Schools received notification from University of Baltimore President Kurt Schmoke indicating his conclusion that disagreement between the district and charter school operators over charter school funding 'is more likely to be resolved through court ordered mediation than the voluntary process which we have been discussing.'
"In light of the determination that facilitated discussion would not be productive, City Schools will respond to the legal action brought by charter operators representing 13 of the district’s 34 charter schools.
"City Schools' mission is to provide excellence in education for all students. Despite the resources that must now be directed to litigation, the district will continue its work to ensure equitable funding for students regardless of the school they attend and to meet its obligation and responsibility to provide fiscal sustainability for the district as a whole.
"The district thanks Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and President Schmoke for their diligent efforts and their commitment to our students and schools."
In a discussion with City Paper before today's news, Bobbi McDonald, speaking on behalf of a group of charter schools that had filed a lawsuit against BCPS over its funding formula, said charters felt "hopeful about Kurt Schmoke" after the groups had seemingly reached an impasse.
As The Sun notes in its story on Schmoke's departure, the litigant charters have offered to drop their suit if City Schools opens their books. The school district told Schmoke, according to The Sun, they wanted the suit dropped and an agreement for it not be re-filed in court.
"Letters sent to Schmoke in recent days — obtained by The Baltimore Sun — show that it was unlikely that there would be resolution."