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Maryland schools battle with limited funding and space as enrollment grows by Michael Bimbaum, WAPO

Michael Bimbaum for the Washington Post reports: More than 200,000 Maryland students streamed back to crowded classrooms Monday as school systems dealt with growth but little money to hire more teachers.

In Montgomery County, the state's largest school system, parents said they were anxious about increased class sizes but sanguine about the schools' future under a successor to Superintendent Jerry D. Weast, who is retiring in June. Enrollment swelled by 2,200 students -- 1.5 percent -- this year, hundreds more than forecast. Howard and Charles counties also returned to school Monday.

Where Are Montgomery County's New Speed Cameras?

MONTGOMERY COUNTY (WUSA)  Montgomery County announced 25 new locations for speed enforcement.   All but one of the following locations will be enforced using six mobile speed vans.  Fixed cameras will be installed at the New Hampshire Avenue location.

Deployment begins August 30th.  Enforcement will be rotated among the sites periodically.

Fingerprint Scanners Coming To Montgomery Rec Centers

ROCKVILLE, Md. (AP) -- Montgomery County residents will soon be required to scan their fingers to enter recreation centers.

Officials say switching from plastic passes to finger scanners will save the recreation department $50,000 annually. The scanners will be put into use this fall at three centers, and will be expanded to all the county's centers next year.

Privacy advocates say the measure is intrusive and unnecessary. Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, says it isn't appropriate for a community pool.

Pepco Defends Storm Response To Maryland Regulators

BALTIMORE (WUSA/AP) -- Pepco is defending its response to recent storms that left many without power for days to Maryland utility regulators.

But during a hearing before the Maryland Public Service Commission on Tuesday Pepco officials also admitted that they've had problems communicating with customers.

The PSC noted in its order calling Tuesday's hearing that outages since late July have affected nearly a half million customers and customers complain the company has not communicated effectively during outages.

PSC Chairman Douglas Nazarin engaged in a long round of questioning. He says from hundreds of letters and complaints, the perception among customers is that "the power goes out too often, too easily, and takes too long to restore."

School Lunches Affected by Slow Economy and Budget Cuts

Education Week reports that due to summer school and transportation budget cuts in Montgomery County schools (and in counties across the country) fewer children are getting free lunches in at least one school district.

The recession has made an impact in school lunch and nutrition programs funded by the Department of Agriculture.  The number of free lunches provided to children in the summer has dropped drastically, and the outcome is proving to be detrimental to low income families.

While the cuts in free lunch assistance are heavy this summer, the program should be stabilized for the fall school year.

To read more, visit: http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2010/08/16/01nutrition.h30.html?tkn=MMLFZq6PoVB8iFvgg7dQ1KSCyQH0m549TsDC&cmp=clp-edweek

Montgomery County Council Members Meet Head-On with Pepco

Montgomery County Council President Nancy Floreen, Vice President Valerie Ervin and Council members Phil Andrews, Roger Berliner, Marc Elrich, George Leventhal, Nancy Navarro and Duchy Trachtenberg are set to meet in Baltimore on August 17 with Pepco’s chief operating officer and senior officials as the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) performs “a proceeding to investigate the reliability of Potomac Electric Power Company’s (Pepco) electric distribution system and the quality of electric distribution service that Pepco is providing its customers.”

According to the Commission, Pepco’s response to power outages and their communication with customers has been far from superior with the recent summer thunderstorms that have occurred in the area.

The continual year-round power outages that occur in Montgomery County have made the need for a more trustworthy electric company a “top priority”, says President Floreen.

Montgomery County Is Battleground For Swing Votes

BETHESDA, Md. (AP) -- Montgomery County's troubles could be former Republican Gov. Bob Ehrlich's ticket back to the governor's mansion.

The state's largest, wealthiest and arguably most liberal jurisdiction is broke. County leaders wrestled to plug a roughly $1 billion budget deficit this year.

Ehrlich has made the county a focal point in his campaign. He announced he would challenge Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley in Rockville, the county seat. His running mate, former Maryland Secretary of State Mary Kane, is from Potomac, one of the county's plushest communities.