Montgomery County School Budget Battles

Miranda S. Spivack and Daniel de Vise:

Some council members said they resent the pressure.
“The suggestion,” Duchy Trachtenberg (D-At Large) said, “is that unless I support 100 percent” of Weast and the school board’s budget plan, “I’m not a friend to education.”
Weast’s budget proposal this year included an increase of more than 7 percent from last year’s budget and totals nearly half of the county’s $4 billion spending plan. Leggett proposed a 6.3 percent increase for the schools. The school system’s budget has increased 31 percent over the past four years, according to a county report.
“I am hard-pressed to believe that in a budget of $2 billion . . . [Weast] cannot find ways to absorb” $20 million, Leggett said recently.
Leggett also has taken a different approach from Duncan to drafting the county budget. Duncan left behind a budget gap that ballooned to nearly $200 million this year, Leggett said, leaving it to him to ask government agencies across the board to scale back their wish lists. The school system, whose annual spending of more than $13,000 per student leads the state, would not be immune, he told Weast in one of their few private meetings.