Gov. Martin O'Malley reminded Maryland's public schools that their budgets could be chopped as he congratulated the schools for being ranked first in a national survey. "For Maryland to be a winner in this new economy we must move forward by creating and saving jobs through innovation and that includes protecting our nation's best public school system," O'Malley said. "We must also be willing to continue making tough choices so that we can protect our shared priorities; priorities that will allow us to make this new economy ours."

O'Malley is considering a 5 percent cut to education spending across the board, his spokesman, Shaun Adamec, told The Washington Examiner last month.

T. Eloise Foster, secretary of the state Department of Budget and Management, said in a letter to Prince George's County Superintendent William Hite that his request for an additional $139 million in state aid "suggests that you believe that the governor's winning re-election is the equivalent to winning the lottery."

Over the past four years, O'Malley has frozen public college tuition and spared the K-12 education system from any cuts, even as the state cut $5.6 billion from its budget, eliminated 4,200 state positions, and still faces at least a $1.3 billion deficit. His protection of education was a major theme in his successful bid for re-election against Republican Bob Ehrlich.

Hite told The Examiner that a 5 percent cut "would be catastrophic" for Prince George's public schools. "That would mean dramatic cuts in terms of classrooms, staff, teachers, administrators and other support services," he said.

- Lisa Gartner