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October 7, 2016

Key School Funding Trends in Southwest Virginia


State support for Virginia students is still down from where it was before the financial strain of the recession, even after the progress made in the last budget after adjusting for inflation. The cuts have been particularly harmful in southwest Virginia where declining student populations have magnified the impact of the reduced per pupil support.

For example, enrollment in Wise County Public Schools has dropped 13 percent since 2009, while state support has declined by 19.5 percent per student, after adjusting for inflation. This means local governments have to take on a larger share of supporting schools, which can be challenging in areas with declining populations and low property values, or reduce investment in their kids’ education and future workforce.

The story is similar in other school divisions in the southwest, such as Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Norton City, Russell, Scott, and Tazewell.

These facts and trends are highlighted in our latest compilation of data around funding for K-12 education published today in an easy-to-read format.

The analysis comes at a critical time as lawmakers seek to preserve some modest increases in education funding adopted in the last budget while also resolving a $1.5 billion revenue shortfall. The numbers show that we’re still down in supporting Virginia students, and that’s why it’s so vital that lawmakers preserve the progress made in the last legislative session and don’t make further cuts.

Chris Duncombe

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