School Budgets Under the Knife

Monday, January 19, 2009

In the Washington area, with some of the best public schools in the country, finding money has rarely seemed a problem for superintendents eager to improve education. Until now. As one school system after another prepares spending plans for the next academic year, officials are facing tough choices as the recession chokes off tax revenue. Scenarios range from difficult to grim to worse. In many places, school improvement is on ice. The goal, instead, is preservation. What follows is a snapshot of the budget cycle for major local school systems, ranked in size by fall 2008 enrollment.

Fairfax

(169,000 students)

Superintendent Jack D. Dale proposed a $2.2 billion budget Jan. 8 that would raise average class size and omit cost-of-living raises. Public hearing planned Wednesday and school board action Feb. 5. Current spending: $2.2 billion.

Montgomery

(139,300)

Superintendent Jerry D. Weast proposed a $2.1 billion budget Dec. 11 that would eliminate cost-of-living raises for employees. Public hearing planned Wednesday and school board action Feb. 9. Current spending: $2.1 billion.

Prince George's

(128,000)

Interim Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. proposed a $1.7 billion budget Dec. 17 that would cut 900 positions, close six schools and increase class size. Hearings ongoing, with school board action expected Feb. 18. Current spending: $1.7 billion.

Prince William

(73,900)


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