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K-12 spending down in Virginia Beach, across state

In a Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission report released today to the governor and General Assembly of Virginia, it highlighted the efficiency and effectiveness of K-12 spending and stated, among its conclusions, that K-12 spending has dropped over the last decade in Virginia Beach and across the state.

What it found: Virginia is at about the national average when it comes to K-12 spending, above average in local funding and student achievement, with the state being near the national average in total spending per student on K-12 education, but to no one’s surprise, “divisions spend less to educate each student than a decade ago” – seven percent less in fiscal year 2014 than the average state school division spent in fiscal year 2005, with 95 percent of students educated in divisions spending less per student, which the report notes is not unique to Virginia or K-12 education.

Non-instructional spending dropped more than on the instructional side.

Virginia Education Association president Meg Gruber told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that localities can’t afford to give any more.

“We’re seeing the report verify that our school systems are under extreme stress.”

In Virginia Beach, per-pupil spending averaged $11,047 in FY 2005 and went up to $12,177 in FY 2009, but between FY 2009 and FY 2014, it dropped to $10,729. The FY 2005-2014 decline represented 2.9 percent, but the FY 2009-2014 decline represented 11.9 percent.

The percentage of students the report says are living in poverty in Virginia Beach has also gone up, from 17,814 students (24 percent) in FY 2005 to 23,464 in FY 2014 (33.8 percent). The source of the data comes from a JLARC staff analysis of data from the Virginia Department of Education, measuring poverty as the percentage of students qualifying for free or reduced price lunch through the National School Lunch Program.

The report stated Virginia teacher salaries ranked 29th of 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia.

The average salary reported for Virginia, $49,800, was below the U.S. average of $56,600, and below most mid-Atlantic states. The state’s average teaching salary has consistently been below the national average. Average teacher salaries, however, have declined in most states over the past decade, after adjusting for inflation.

There’s much more in the report. Read the entire report here, and stay tuned to this post for more.

Media coverage:

Daily Press: JLARC finds downtrend in K-12 spending

The report dovetails nicely with Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s stated plans to call for more K-12 funding in his upcoming budget, and his Secretary of Education made a bee line into that argument Monday, after the JLARC report had been presented to legislators.

The Daily Press story notes that Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. “Tommy” Norment asked state Education Secretary Anne Holton, if she had an extra $100 million (in theory), what would she do with it. She said she would first have the money appropriated to “schools in high poverty areas.”

Richmond Times-Dispatch: JLARC: Spending drop squeezes schools

Holton described “a trifecta of challenges” — reduced resources, more students who require extra effort to teach, and higher expectations for success. “I am concerned we will not continue to maintain our high-quality education if we continue to starve” local school divisions, she said.