The Washington Post reports that Virginia is losing hundreds of millions of dollars from state education funding. Formulas used to determine how much school districts should've received during the recession have stayed the same even after the state’s economy has rebounded.
Researchers at the Commonwealth Institute say that Virginia schools are being shortchanged $800 million a year because of formulas that underestimate what it actually costs to educate children. Among the poorest counties in Virginia, Lee County lost nearly $2,500 per student between 2009 and 2014, accounting for inflation, the most of any district in the state. The county spent approximately $12,000 per student in the 2013-2014 school year, so the losses had a sizable impact on the district’s budget.
The Post says some of Virginia’s poor counties struggled to make up for the losses in state funds. In Northern Virginia, Prince William County lost the most, at $630 per student, according to the report. The county, which gets about half of its funding from the state, saw class sizes skyrocket in that period and now spends the least per student of the districts in the Washington area. Other Northern Virginia districts — including Fairfax and Loudoun counties — actually saw modest gains in state funding.
The institute argues that the state funding formula should be readjusted so it “accurately reflects the real costs of running schools and educating our kids.”