A pitch to stay past the final bell Campaign seeks help for after-care plans serving city schools

April 23, 1996|By Marilyn McCraven | Marilyn McCraven,SUN STAFF

With funding assistance from two of the city's professional sports teams -- the baseball Orioles and the NFL Ravens -- the community group BUILD expects to open after-school programs in 10 Baltimore City public schools this fall.

The teams, at the behest of legislators and Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, are expected to contribute to the Child First Authority, which is similar to the Stadium Authority that funded the construction of Camden Yards and the soon-to-be built professional football stadium.

Organizers of after-school programs welcome the financial help.

On Friday afternoon, with a warm sun beckoning them to stay outside, about 40 East Baltimore schoolchildren showed up for the after-school program at Koinonia Baptist Church.

Tutoring in math and reading was conducted inside the former auto supply warehouse on Greenmount Avenue, just north of 25th Street. Then the finer points of rope jumping and kickball were taught on a back lot.

Overlooking her active charges, program organizer Rosanna Miles lamented that she didn't have enough volunteers to accept all 102 children who applied for the program last fall.

"We could have many, many more children," Mrs. Miles said. "There is definitely a need for this program."

A few months ago, many people considered BUILD's plans a pipe dream, said Kathleen O'Toole, an organizer for BUILD, which stands for Baltimoreans United In Leadership Development.

"We get a sense that a lot of people haven't called about having [an after-care] program in their schools because they were waiting to see this become a reality," she said.

But the state legislature recently overwhelmingly passed enabling legislation for the authority and a $400,000 bond bill, which must be matched by private funds, to help pay for equipment and building renovation costs for the program.

The Baltimore City Council is expected to follow suit and pass legislation establishing the authority by mid-June. "The prospects for passage are very good," said City Council President Lawrence A. Bell III.

Nevertheless, BUILD officials are to announce a campaign today to persuade the council to pass the legislation.

Del. Howard P. Rawlings, lead sponsor of the legislation creating the authority and the bond bill, said the sports teams' support is reciprocal "since public financing provided stadiums for their teams." Mr. Rawlings, a Baltimore Democrat, said Art Modell, owner of the Ravens, and Orioles owner Peter Angelos have agreed to contribute to the authority but neither has committed to a definite amount, he said.

Kevin Byrne, a spokesman for the Ravens, said Child First is on the list of charitable causes that the team will consider once its charitable foundation is established.

Mr. Angelos could not be reached for comment yesterday, but he previously said that the Orioles likely would contribute to "this worthwhile program."

Mr. Schmoke, who could not be reached for comment yesterday, has promised to raise $1.5 million in private funds for the authority. Earlier this year, BUILD sources said the mayor would raise money from the professional sports teams, managers of the Baltimore Arena and fees generated by the privatized corporation that governs municipal golf courses.

Child First is designed to keep city public schoolchildren occupied between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. by offering help with homework, providing tutoring and other activities at neighborhood schools. The program is to spread to 40 schools within three years.

To address political concerns, BUILD plans to select one school from each City Council member's district for the fall debut.

To be selected, however, a school must already have a relationship with a BUILD church, the school's teachers must be eager to see such a program established and there must be the possibility of organizing parents, Ms. O'Toole said.

BUILD's long-term goal is to get more parents of schoolchildren and others playing a more active roles in the schools.

"After people get in and see what's happening in the schools from 3 to 6, we hope they'll want to know what's going on from 9 to 3," Ms. O'Toole said.

Pub Date: 4/23/96

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