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Leggett Speaks On School District "Needs"

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett is widely viewed as someone who tries to avoid public conflict. So it was not especially surprising this morning that he seemed to be holding out an olive branch to schools superintendent Jerry D. Weast, with whom he had sparred early this year over the school system's budget request.

Leggett, you may recall, told Weast that he would be unable to give Weast the entire $37 million increase sought in the school system's $2 billion budget. Leggett did tell Weast he could provide about two-thirds of the increase.

That didn't satisfy Weast, who helped gin up a campaign to try to win more money from the County Council. In the end, the school system got most but not all of what officials there sought. And Weast did manage to find some unspent funds that helped bridge the difference.

This morning, speaking to a breakfast crowd organized by the Committee for Montgomery, an advocacy group of business, labor and non-profit officials, Leggett provided details of looming budget problems in the coming year. But he also said he "didn't want a superintendent who wouldn't look at the budget honestly and say 'this is what I need to educate the children of Montgomery County. '"

So does that mean it's okay for Weast to ask for the max even if Leggett can't deliver?

Well, not quite. Leggett-ologists say the key word in that sentence is "need." Leggett doesn't think Weast should ask for everything he "wants," but instead for everything the system "needs."

Put away those olive branches.

By Anne Bartlett  |  September 10, 2007; 3:01 PM ET
Categories:  Miranda Spivack  
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Comments

We have a housing crisis in Montgomery County now. We can't raise property taxes, sales taxes, income taxes and gasoline taxes the way Leggett wants to. We are driving the middle class out of the county, keeping young people from buying homes here and making long-timers tap equity income to pay their bills.
School enrollment is declining. Yet the school system cuts their budget only $4,500 for every student that leaves. Test scores are down and the achievement gap is widening. The answer is NOT to throw millions of dollars more at the system. The growing ranks of administrators who have no student contact should be thinned. New ideas and new Michelle Rhee-type leadership is what we need.

Posted by: Robin Ficker of Robin Realty | September 11, 2007 2:59 AM | Report abuse

Ficker, you are not making sense. Are you actually trying to claim that enrollment in Montgomery County schools is declining? That would simply be false (or perhaps you are mis-informed), however, your angst towards Leggett/Weast handling of the schools is based on this falsehood. Fact check please.

Posted by: Donny | September 13, 2007 7:37 AM | Report abuse

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