When the Governor took office he was faced with the challenge of balancing the budget while facing a 2.2 billion dollar shortfall, with a projected 4 billion dollar deficit over the next two years. To this end, the Governor recommended a decrease in funding to education, a recommendation that has drawn recent criticism. However, these cuts are not only necessary but reasonable.
A closer examination of education shows that funding has significantly out-paced enrollment. Over the past decade funding to K-12 education has increased by 58.9%; if you include federal stimulus funding, the total funding increased by 68.7%. In this same period, student enrollment only increased by 7.2%. Furthermore, even after the proposed cuts to education, funding for 2010 is still 51.9% higher than it was in FY 2000.
Many Virginians support these proposed cuts and believe that with proper prioritization, appropriate cuts can be made without impacting the core goals of the school systems.
“In these tough economic times Virginia families are cutting budgets and prioritizing expenses. We expect our elected officials to do the same and make tough decisions that will improve the financial outlook for our state. We need the Governor to lead on this critical issue,” stated Angie Parker of Just Liberty.
During a recession we have to re-evaluate what constitutes necessity and what is a nice to have. There is consensus that funding should be focused in the classroom. One primary focus area should be administrative costs. Currently 100% of lottery proceeds go towards education, but 39% of this money is appropriated for administrative costs. The Superintendent of Chesterfield schools receives $234,130 in total compensation and has five assistant superintendents making over $140,000 in total compensation. This is a general trend in school districts throughout the state. To put this into perspective, the Governor’s salary is $175,000.
“The school administrators are threatening to cut jobs in the classroom in response to budget cuts. Parents concerned about their child’s education should begin to ask tough questions of their local school administrators and demand that they keep cuts out of the classroom. Another area that we could focus on is the perceived need for massive and elaborate school buildings and laptop computers for every child. These “nice to have’s” seem less relevant to providing quality education for our students when we are forced to make cuts and prioritize expenses,” said Michelle Stanley of Richmond Patriots, who is a mom with children in the public schools.
We applaud the Governor for making the difficult but necessary decision to reduce the growth rate of funding for education. Now it is up to the localities to insure that the schools make the right decisions about how to implement those cuts while having the least impact on the classroom.