Elevated levels of lead in drinking water have surfaced in more than half of all Montgomery County Public Schools.
The district has released results from the first batch of tests of the 205 schools in the county, and so far 12 of the first 21 schools tested have been shown to have lead levels higher than the 20 parts per billion mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency, WTOP reported.
Eight of the 12 offending schools are elementary schools: Gaithersburg, New Hampshire Estates, Pine Crest, Rock View, Rolling Terrace, Strathmore, Summit Hall and Viers Mill. Other schools found to have high lead levels so far are Eastern Parkland and Sligo middle schools and Northwood High School.
The testing reportedly began in February and came in response to a Maryland law that requires all schools be tested for lead in their water by July 1.
More information on testing results will be posted on the schools system’s website.
Leggett Delivers Final Budget Proposal
County Executive Isiah Leggett has proposed his final budget before his term ends in December.
Leggett, who plans to retire once his term finishes, proposed Thursday, March 15 a $5.56 billion operating budget for fiscal 2019. In the budget, the executive covers county spending from July 1 to June 30, 2019, and holds the line on property taxes.
In his speech, Leggett told the County Council that although the property tax rate will drop by about 2 cents to remain within the county’s charter limit, rising assessment rates will increase the average residential tax bill by about $27 for the year.
Leggett’s budget also includes about $2.59 billion for Montgomery County Public Schools, which is what the county’s Board of Education reportedly requested.
Over the next two months, the council will review and debate Leggett’s spending recommendations as well as make changes to the budget before formally approving it, which is expected to happen in May.
Major Safeway Closes in Bethesda
After more than 27 years in Bethesda, the Safeway on Old Georgetown Road has officially closed down.
The 41,300-square-foot store, which opened in 1991 near the Woodmont Avenue intersection, was shuttered due to underperformance. Many of the employees have been relocated to other Safeway stores in the area.
On Friday, the store offered up to 75 percent off remaining items left on the shelves, including various food cans, spices, fruit, frozen turkeys and other condiments.
Though the nearby Safeway on Bradley Boulevard remains open, some area residents wonder if the brand will disappear altogether amid emerging options such as Harris Teeter on Battery Lane, Giant on Arlington Road and Trader Joe’s.