Thursday, December 29, 2005

MCPS budgets $1.8 billion for 2007, with no public safeguards against corruption

School Superintendent Jerry Weast's unveiling of a $1.8 billion school budget for 2007 is raising eyebrows in the Seven Locks area and elsewhere around Montgomery County, where parents are increasingly concerned about waste, fraud, abuse and corruption.

Montgomery County Public Schools officials continue to disregard parents' repeated questions about how MCPS has handled cases of alleged corruption in school construction over the past 25 years.

The proposed $1.8 billion budget marks an increase of $122 million, over the current year, with $18 million marked for new school construction. About half the proposed 2007 budget increase is expected to come from state and federal sources.

Some of the $18 million will fund the controversial Kendale Road elementary school project in Potomac. The project is controversial in part because of the improper and possibly illegal way in which County Executive Doug Duncan, Weast and others attempted to get rid of valuable school property for favored high-density housing construction projects.

Seven Locks PTA members have complained about lack of due process, lack of transparency, and lack of public accountability that could hide corruption that many say runs rampant in the public construction industry.

Fueling the controversy further, MCPS construction official Jim Tokar and others continue stonewall parents' questions about what the county is doing to safeguard against corruption. To avoid receiving constituent questions about corruption, they have blocked individual citizens' e-mail addresses from their MCPS e-mail system.