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Montgomery County officials contend schools get shortchanged by the state

The matter before the Montgomery County Council’s Education Committee was largely procedural, but elected officials did not miss the chance Monday to press a perennial concern: The state, they argue, shortchanges the school system on funding.

Montgomery County is Maryland’s largest school system, with more than 150,000 students, and has grown markedly in recent years.

“The state clearly is not ponying up what we believe we have coming to us,” said County Council Member Valerie Ervin (D-Eastern County), education committee chair, at a meeting where members approved two state grants worth $1.2 million.

The funding is slated for capital improvements such as doors, windows or flooring.

Council Member Phil Andrews (D-Gaithersburg-Rockville) said Montgomery County received 11 percent of state money slated last year for school construction, even though it accounts for 17 percent of Maryland’s students.

Council Member Craig Rice (D-Upcounty) commended James Song, the school system’s director of facilities management, for trying to “keep things together with spit and tape.”

Still, state funding falls short, he said. “We are not getting our fair share,” Rice said.

State capital improvement funding decisions often involve multiple factors, not only the size of a district’s student population.

State education officials said Monday they do not comment on state budget items.

Donna St. George writes about education, with an emphasis on Montgomery County schools.

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