Montgomery council president sets sights on school funding law

By Michael Birnbaum
Monday, December 13, 2010; 10:23 PM

The new head of the Montgomery County Council said in a speech Monday that she wants to change a state law that sets minimum funding levels for schools.

Council President Valerie Ervin (D-Silver Spring) said at the Committee for Montgomery legislative breakfast that the law that sets minimum levels that counties must spend on schools, called maintenance of effort, "is illogical and unacceptable, and we must all work together to fix it now."

The law will require the Montgomery school system to propose a budget significantly higher than the current one, even though the county is facing a steep deficit. Superintendent Jerry D. Weast plans to announce his budget proposal Wednesday.

Ervin said she supports the intent of the law, which is to ensure that school systems are adequately funded. But she said it makes little sense in tough fiscal times.

"There is no state maintenance of effort law for libraries, public safety, health and human services, or transportation," she said, according to a transcript of the speech. The school system required a waiver this year after the county funded it below state minimum levels.

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