Md. Senate passes bill that would waive $23 million Montgomery education fine

By Michael Birnbaum
Saturday, February 27, 2010

A bill that would waive a $23 million penalty levied against Montgomery County public schools passed with overwhelming support in the Maryland Senate on Friday.

The fine has been hanging over the state's largest school system for months. The district was penalized for failing to meet state requirements for minimum levels of education spending during the 2009-10 fiscal year. But educators and politicians have questioned the wisdom of the fine at a time when school systems are facing deep cuts because of the economy.

The bill was approved on a 43 to 3 vote. The Maryland House must now take up the issue, which waives the minimum spending levels, called "maintenance of effort," for the current fiscal year.

Counties across the state are planning next year's budgets and are facing the same issue. Legislation has been introduced that would waive next year's minimums as well, but no votes have been taken.

Staff writer John Wagner contributed to this report.

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