Thursday, December 14, 2006

Superintendent's budget is in trouble

Even before he unveiled his budget to the school board, Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jerry Weast saw that it was in trouble.

Gone are his allies who unquestioningly approved his steady increases in spending. In their place are newly elected leaders, distrusting of MCPS officials, who intend to scrutinize every line item.

Weast proposed a 7 percent increase in the next fiscal year budget, and plans to ask for a big raise for his own salary and perks.

The $1.98 billion budget "could be a tough sell with new county leaders concerned about the bottom line," Daniel de Vise and Ann E. Marimow report in the Washington Post.

"In releasing his eighth budget as county schools chief, Weast faces more pressure than in the past to demonstrate that he is spending frugally. Montgomery's new chief executive and the nine-member council, which controls the school system's purse strings, said yesterday that they plan to take a conservative view of what the county can afford in the upcoming budget year," according to the Post.

"Timothy Firestine, who was confirmed yesterday as County Executive Isiah Leggett's chief administrative officer, told the council 'you absolutely can't sustain' the pace of spending approved in recent years. 'That's just not going to work.'"