Report: Deepest Funding Cuts in Virginia Hit Highest-Poverty Schools

school funding

Reposted from the Lynchburg News & Advance:

During the economic downturn, Virginia dealt its deepest education cuts to its highest-poverty school divisions, according to a new report from a Richmond-based policy group. “The state made a series of cuts to education during the recession to close the state budget shortfall, but the way they did it did not protect high-poverty communities in Virginia,” said Michael Cassidy, president and CEO of The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis. The Commonwealth Institute, a left-leaning think tank, said a review of Census figures and superintendents’ reports found the steepest cuts in state aid were sustained by communities with the highest poverty rates among children.

In Virginia’s poorest school divisions, nearly 30 percent of students live in households under the federal poverty line, it reported. Those same divisions saw their state aid drop by an average of $1,490 per student — or about 21 percent — during the four-year cycle between 2008-09 and 2012-13. In contrast, school divisions with the most affluent student bodies saw their state aid drop by $511 per student on average — or about 11 percent — during the same period, according to the Commonwealth Institute.

Lynchburg Superintendent Scott Brabrand is adamant all children can succeed in school, but said some may need more instruction time and one-on-one attention — which carries a cost. “As we ask schools to achieve higher standards with less support, we’re going to have to have these conversations if we want to see strong outcomes for all kids, regardless of economic background,” he said. “We’ve got to be sure we’re giving our kids the necessary supports … You can’t cut systems with large numbers of kids in poverty and expect them to do better.” Like many school divisions, Lynchburg’s state aid and overall operating budget still lags behind the pre-recession peaks reached in 2008-09.

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