Virginia Education Budget May Hurt Poorer Schools More
Virginia’s House and Senate have agreed on a budget that increases state dollars for education, but critics say rich schools will do better than poor ones under the current funding formula, and we’ll still be far behind where we were when the recession hit.
Since 2009, Virginia has cut about $800 million a year in funding for public schools. Now, lawmakers have agreed to restore some of that money - about $856 million over two years.
Chris Duncombe is with the Commonwealth Institute, a progressive think tank in Richmond. He says statewide, schools will still be 10% below where they were seven years ago.
Duncombe says, “It took several budget periods to dig the hole that we did in K-12 funding, and it would be unrealistic to assume that the state would get that fixed in one budget period. This budget makes progress, but it needs to be a goal going forward that we continue to focus on the need for more dollars to fully restore the cuts made since the recession.”
Duncombe says, the General Assembly needs to change the funding formula for public education. During the recession, poor schools lost proportionately more than wealthy ones, and now it’ll be the rich schools that benefit most as lawmakers restore funding cuts. The legislature meets April 20 to work out differences with the governor, who can veto parts of the budget or amend it.