February 9, 2019
House and Senate Slash K-12 Funding Proposals Targeted to Students of Color — A Division by Division Analysis
On Thursday the Virginia House of Delegates (73 Y 25 N) and the Senate of Virginia (40-Y 0-N) approved their chambers’ amendments to the state budget. Both proposals fall far short in their K-12 investments from what the governor initially put forward in December with the House investing $143 million less and the Senate investing $87 million less in general funds. Meanwhile yesterday, House and Senate finance committee leaders announced an agreement with Gov. Northam on a tax cut proposal that comes with a price tag of nearly $1 billion further jeopardizing the initially proposed investments.
The harm from these potential cuts will not be shared equally by schools across the commonwealth. Rather, the House and Senate amendments slash programs and services targeted to schools with the most students of color.
The amendments adopted by the House reduce per student funding twice as much for school divisions with the highest concentration of students of color as they do for the whitest schools. Looking by division, the differences become more clear. The 18 school divisions with the most students of color (as a percentage of total enrollment) lose a total of $21 million from the proposed amendments, while the 60 school divisions with the largest portion of white students only lose a combined $9 million. That comes from targeting programs serving students of color. One of the ways this was achieved was by eliminating the proposed increase to Virginia’s At-Risk Add-On and shifting it to a lottery supplement that awards funding based on enrollment, not student need, and by taking out additional preschool funding for students living in low income families.
We see similar issues in the Senate. The 18 school divisions with the largest concentration of students of color also lose out on $21 million in the Senate proposal, while the 60 school divisions with the most white students lose a combined $16 million The Senate budget reduces the additional funding for school counselors from $36 million in the governor’s budget to just $12 million. We know that students from low-wealth backgrounds are significantly more likely to experience trauma and struggle navigating school environments. Counselors play a crucial role in supporting students and diverting them from the school to prison pipeline – a track that is all too familiar to Black families here in the commonwealth given over-referral of students of color to law enforcement.
The House proposal also delays an additional 2 percent salary increase (on top of a budgeted 3 percent increase) for teachers and school staff by 6 months. The result of this delay is that the pay increase won’t actually show up as a 5 percent increase for many teachers and school staff across the state. That’s because schools don’t make full-time teacher contracts on a month-to-month basis. This leaves local school divisions with a choice of either finding the local funding to pay for a full school year or just giving a partial pay raise.
Yesterday, House and Senate finance committee leaders announced an agreement with Governor Northam on a nearly $1 billion tax cut proposal – a large portion of that deal ($420 million) includes sending checks to tax filers of $110 for individuals and $220 for couples in October right before the November election. Politicians have tried this type of political stunt before.
Instead, these funds could be used to make smart, targeted investments in Virginia’s communities, moving us toward being a state where we can all prosper. To advocate for equitable investment in Virginia’s K-12 schools, contact the House and Senate budget conferees (to be named).
Click on the preview or “print-friendly version” below for a summary of the division by division impacts of the House and Senate adopted amendments compared to the governor’s proposed budget amendments.
***The below tables do not include amendments from the House to decrease $80 million and the Senate to decrease $10 million in general funds for school construction loans that has not been allocated to divisions. It also excludes a Senate floor amendment to decrease the Senate’s reduction to the governor’s proposal for school counselors by $2 million (updated on 2/14 to note the exclusion of Senate amendment to decrease $10m in GF) .