Leggett testifies in Annapolis for school funding

(WJLA) - Mold in schools. Leaking roofs. Over-crowded classrooms. Montgomery County leaders are asking for some much-needed financial help to fix their schools.

County Executive Ike Leggett testified before the House Appropriation's Committee Thursday, calling attention to student enrollment, which is projected to jump from 137,000 in 2007 to 162,000 in 2019. That's a 17-percent increase in just 12 years.

“They keep coming, they’re going to keep coming for a while, and we need a place to put them,” said Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Joshua Starr.

Del. Anne Kaiser drafted a bill, proposing Maryland allocate $100 million to Montgomery County over five years. In turn, the county would match 2-1, adding $200 million. Altogether, $300 million in bonds would leverage dozens of school construction projects.

But the proposal isn't sitting well with delegates from less affluent, rural counties.

"Some jurisdictions, including some of your own, have more ability to pay for your schools than my county does, and that again is not correct because my kids and the cost of educating my children in y county are just as important as yours," said Del. Mary-Dulany James, (D) District 34A.

“A lot of people don’t talk and associate poverty with Montgomery County,” said Craig Rice, (D) Montgomery County Council President. “Montgomery County has more children on free and reduced meals than the District of Columbia has students.”