Fewer teachers, larger class sizes could be in store for Montgomery County public schools

WASHINGTON — Shameful: That’s what a Montgomery County Council member thinks of what’s going on in Annapolis.

Montgomery County Public Schools are facing a cut of 370 school-based staff positions in the next school year, and some class sizes could go up because of budget problems. In addition, the school district likely won’t get all of the state budget help it asked for, because Gov. Larry Hogan wants to focus on reducing the state’s deficit.

“This is funding that has been identified and passed by a General Assembly that is comprised of Democrats and Republicans,” said County Councilmember Craig Rice.  “However, this governor has chosen not to allocate funds that were already set aside for education, and that quite frankly is very concerning, and I think shameful.”

“This is a time in which the state should be stepping up, not stepping out.  And so it’s my hope that in the next couple of days the governor might see what the right thing to do for the state of Maryland is, not just Montgomery County.  But based on what I’ve heard from Annapolis, I don’t think that’s the case.”

Rice spoke Monday at a work session of the council’s Education Committee, which he chairs.

“If this is our crown jewel, and this is the thing we hold up there as, ‘Please come to Montgomery County; we’ve got the best educational institutions you could want,’ if we can’t deliver that, that’s a real blow to the county,” said Councilmember Marc Elrich.

Another Education Committee meeting is set for Thursday.

A final council budget vote on the county budget for fiscal 2016 is scheduled for May 21, leaving council members only a few weeks to try to come up with alternatives.

In a letter to Hogan dated April 20, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett and leaders from five other counties urge the governor to give schools all the state money they were expecting, and to do so quickly, as budgeting deadlines grow nearer.

Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter turned morning anchor at WTOP News.

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