Yesterday, the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners announced the resignation of Baltimore City Public Schools CEO Dr. Gregory Thornton and the appointment of Dr. Sonja Santelises to the position, effective July 1.
OSI-Baltimore has had a productive working relationship with Dr. Thornton during his two-year tenure, and we’re proud of the work we have done together, establishing and strengthening four High Value High Schools and improving school climate, among other initiatives. We thank him for his service to our children and our community and wish him the best in all future endeavors.
We look forward to working with Dr. Santelises, who was the Chief Academic Officer of Baltimore City Public Schools from 2010 to 2013 and is currently vice president for K-12 Policy and Practice at the Education Trust. In an interview with the Sun, Dr. Santelises acknowledged the “incredibly hard work” the job requires but sounded upbeat about the school system’s potential. “I worked in a city system that was not perfect, that had incredible challenges, but had critical masses of people who wanted to do right by kids,” she said of her time working in Baltimore City Public Schools. We share Dr. Santelises’ optimism and hope to support her work to overcome the considerable challenges in our schools.
Last night, before announcing Dr. Thornton’s departure, the school board approved an annual budget that cuts central office staff, including school police officers, and redirects some of those funds towards literacy and math initiatives, as well as restorative practices and other interventions to restore school climate. We consider this a positive step toward improving the learning environment for our children and reforming school discipline practices—the subject of considerable scrutiny of late—which includes reducing suspensions and expulsions and otherwise moving away from the “school-to-prison pipeline” toward a more restorative approach.
OSI-Baltimore stands ready to support Dr. Santelises and all City Schools’ supporters inside and outside the school system who are working to ensure the best possible outcomes for our children.
Photograph of Dr. Santelises courtesy of the Baltimore Sun and Kim Hairston