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Posted at 11:51 AM ET, 11/ 5/2009

Should Montgomery schools pay millions in penalties?

By Valerie Strauss

I had only one response to the story about the state of Maryland considering fining Montgomery County tens of millions of millions as punishment for not spending enough money on schools: You’ve gotta be kidding.

According to the story by my colleague Nelson Hernandez, the county could be liable for $16 million-$64 million in penalties because it supposed violated a state law on the minimum amount of money that should be spent on schools. Prince George’s County apparently committed the same violation but may not be liable for anything.

The violations occurred as all counties were trying to reduce spending. School systems got hit along with other parts of county government. Montgomery and Prince George’s decided to order their school systems to reimburse the county for debt service on public school construction.

Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler has determined that the cost-cutting trick doesn’t legally cut it. Hence the possible penalties.

I don’t think I have to spell out the idiocy of the situation here. Let’s watch to see if the state devises a remedy that doesn’t require the schools to divert a dime of school funding.

Not now. Not for this.

By Valerie Strauss  | November 5, 2009; 11:51 AM ET
Categories:  Montgomery County Public Schools  | Tags:  montgomery county public schools  
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This story has confounded me from the start. I fail to see how fining a strugging school system benefits the students who are the ones who suffered from reduced spending. Where will this fine go if it is paid? How does that help my children's schools where there are fewer aides and the buildings are in desperate need of modernization.

Posted by: amanda2315 | November 5, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Oh, geez. I know Montgomery can look like an easy target to much of the rest of the state (easy there, folks; we're not all Bethesda), but I really, really don't see how punishing students for an administrative screwup benefits anyone at all.

Posted by: subrosa77 | November 5, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

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