Montgomery County Preparing For Substantial Penalty for Not Meeting Education Spending Requirements

The action taken on April 28 by the Montgomery County Council to withdraw its request for a waiver from its maintenance of effort (MOE) requirement could have implications for both the county’s and the school board’s budgets moving forward.   By not meeting its statutory requirements for funding the public schools, the county will almost certainly face the imposition of a multi-million dollar penalty by the State Board of Education – a penalty the county would rather pay than uphold what it considers to be “unreasonable” state law.   In an article from the April 28 Washington Post,

Estimates of the penalty for failing to keep up in next year’s budget range from $26 million to more than $29 million, officials said. The county successfully lobbied in Annapolis to delay any potential penalty for a year and said it would continue fighting against it.

Montgomery officials argue that they have exceeded that minimum spending amount by hundreds of millions of dollars over the past decade and should be given flexibility in unusually tough budget times. But schools officials say they need more funds to maintain excellence in the growing system.

County Executive Isiah Leggett was not supportive of the action but he did sign the letter that was sent to the State Board of Education withdrawing the county’s waiver request.

Coverage in the today’s Gazette states:

The letter represents an about-face for the county, which had informed the state school board a month ago that it intended to seek a waiver from the law, a decision supported by the county’s Board of Education. The school system stands to lose $29 million in state aid without a waiver.

The decision would allow the county to reduce the amount of money it gives to Montgomery County Public Schools in the next fiscal year — and potentially every year thereafter.

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