New funding formula proposed

Published 11:51 am Wednesday, February 8, 2017

As of Feb. 3, the House has completed 24 of the 46 days of the 2017 session.

On Sunday, the committees responsible for the budget bills unveiled their complete proposals. Two important deadlines will happen this week. Tuesday was crossover, the deadline with which each chamber must complete work on bills that originated in their chamber. Thursday, the House will vote on their version of the budget.

We have been working hard on the issues that matter most to Virginia families. One of our top priorities is education. The House believes strongly in supporting our public schools. That includes making sure that we adequately fund our schools.

Statewide, education seems to be going relatively well. Virginia children are scoring higher on their pre-college entrance exams; we rank third in the nation in Advanced Placement achievement and accreditation and graduation rates are up. But if you look closely at our region, things aren’t looking so great.

For years now, schools in rural areas have been struggling primarily due to the economic downturn and enrollment declines. Since our education funding formulas are based on a per-pupil basis, as the students leave the schools, so does our education funding. Fewer students means fewer dollars to fund education. Many of our schools have taken a major financial hit. They have cut programs, consolidated buildings, all in an effort to save money to balance their budgets.

A group of budget leaders came up with a way to fix this growing problem. The House has a plan called the 10-10-10 formula. This initiative will look at the last 10 years of a school districts’ population. If in the last 10 years, there is a 10 percent or more decline of students, and the school district has a population of less than 10,000 students, we will provide a 15 percent enrollment loss supplement. It will allow them to invest in the future of our children.

Tommy Wright represents Lunenburg in the House and lives in Lunenburg. His email address is