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August 24, 2022

K-12 At-a-Glance: Trends and statistics statewide and for all 132 school divisions

Virginia’s school funding policies fail to meet the needs of students, placing heavy burdens on local governments to try to make up the difference, which all but guarantees inequitable outcomes depending on where a student lives. That is the unavoidable conclusion of The Commonwealth Institute’s new analysis, released today, which examines each of Virginia’s 132 school divisions and their enrollment, staffing, demographics, and funding trends. At a time when Virginia has stronger-than-expected revenues, the state can and should provide the funding that is necessary to ensure a high-quality education for all students.  

Key findings include:

  • Virginia schools had fewer staff during the 2020-2021 school year than they did during the 2008-2009 school year, yet had 16,439 more students. 
  • Schools depend on local governments to make up for shortcomings in the state funding formula, with localities spending $4.2 billion more during the 2020-2021 school year than the state required. As shown in the infographics, some local governments are able to do that more than others. Overall, school divisions in Virginia contributed more than twice what the funding formula said was required, but in rural school divisions it was just 65% more, and in some of the highest-poverty school divisions like Petersburg and Tazewell it was less than 10% more.

“Students in every community, regardless of zip code, deserve access to a great education, and Virginia’s cities and counties are collectively carrying heavy financial burdens to help make that happen. Despite recent increases in Virginia’s budget for K-12 education, state support still falls far short of what the Virginia Board of Education says is needed to fully fund our schools,” says Ashley C. Kenneth, President and CEO of The Commonwealth Institute. “This has direct and lasting consequences for students, particularly for high-poverty school divisions in Virginia. We need state policymakers to support all of our students.”  

The Commonwealth Institute

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