The Schools and Recreation program originated in 2005 as The Better Schools Initiative in response to concerns that Reservoir Hill’s neighborhood school, John Eager Howard Elementary School, was threatened with closure as part of a city-wide process to reduce school facility space. The Better Schools Initiative organized parent and community response. More than 250 residents participated in community meetings, a door-to-door petition drive, city-wide planning meetings addressing facilities needs and closures, and ongoing advocacy.
The result was that John Eager Howard School was secured, funds were targeted in the city planning process for facility improvements, and the present Parent-Teacher-Community Organization (PTCO) was founded.
Spurred by the believe that our public schools can best provide an excellent education to our children if families and community residents are engaged as full partners in the education process, Reservoir Hill Improvement Council continued the Better Schools Initiative, to advocate for full funding for
under-funded subjects such as art, music, and physical education; and reforms that decrease class size and improve teaching.
The Initiative was guided by a Team of school and recreation center personnel, parents, and RHIC staff. This “School Team” grew to address recreation needs, summer youth employment, and other issues related to young people, in addition to its original task of organizing support for full school funding.
Today, Reservoir Hill Improvement Council’s Schools & Recreation program works to foster in Reservoir Hill those things that support a thriving family life, institutions and programs that provide youth the opportunity to succeed — excellent schools; parks, playgrounds and recreation opportunities; opportunities for youth leadership; and development that ensures a healthy lifestyle for families.
We support strong, well-funded public schools, recreation centers, parks, after school programs, early childhood education programs, youth employment programs, and development plans that provide for access to healthy food and institutions that support family needs and that help our children succeed, such as locally accessible banks as alternatives to check cashing businesses, walk-ability in communities, and good public transportation.
To that end we:
Advocate for city and state initiatives, public policies, and budgets that foster (1) strong education options, from early childcare and preschool to elementary, middle, and high schools, (2) diverse recreational opportunities for children, teens, and adults, and (3) safe, attractive open spaces where children can play and families can interact.
Work for development that fosters walkable communities, increases opportunities for families to interact, and provides for easy access to healthy food, commercial resources, and good public transportation.
Collaborate with organizations around the City, such as the Baltimore Education Coalition and the ACLU’s Education Reform Project, and healthy neighborhoods, public institutions like the Baltimore City Public School System, Baltimore Housing, and the Department of Recreation & Parks.
Organize programs in schools, recreation centers, and the broader community to engage parents, youth, school and recreation personnel, and the broader community.