MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. - A plan is on the table in Montgomery County to address the large increase in the number of students at schools across the county.
The county has seen thousands of new students every year, and now as the county’s new budget takes shape, lawmakers are looking to taxpayers to help dig them out of the hole.
The growth in students is fueled in large part by a flood of immigration, both legal and illegal. A study by the League of Woman voters says Maryland remains a major destination for both. In Maryland, 45.3% of all immigrants live in Montgomery County, which is the highest percentage in the state.
The county is looking to divert new tax dollars to meet the crushing demands to accommodate a large number of students.
On Wednesday, the Montgomery County council held the second budget hearing out of five for its 2018 operating budget. Just last year, the county slapped new homeowners with a new tax when buying a home. Those tax dollars are going to be siphoned off to help address the population crisis that is going on in the county schools. Council President Roger Berliner says he's proposing to take $30 million dollars of that new tax money, bond it out, and that bond would generate as much as 70 million dollars in new construction money over five years, they could double that. Berliner says it's a better way to use the money taxpayers are already spending.
“Ask any parent of a school aged child and they will tell you the schools are bursting at the seams. We are growing at 2,500 to 3,000 kids a year – a high school a year. So we have to do everything we can to get in front of this and we are so far behind it now,” explained Berliner.
The scheduled speakers at Wednesday afternoon’s session were generally in support of the direction the council is moving on the issue, but there is widespread disagreement over whether the council's statements in opposition to federal immigration enforcement has created an immigration magnet to the community which is swelling the demand for these new schools.