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Posted at 10:45 AM ET, 01/31/2010

Insult from Richmond

By washingtonpost.com editors

By Sharon Bulova, Corey A. Stewart and Scott K. York

Education is the silver bullet. Our children are our future. These are things we know intuitively, and in these uncertain economic times, we must continue to strengthen this foundation to ensure our economic recovery and success in a global marketplace.

As governments at every level face significant budget shortfalls, elected officials are wrestling with difficult decisions and painful cuts. In Northern Virginia, unfortunately, our challenge is exacerbated by a recent state budget proposal to freeze the local composite index (LCI) for K-12 education.

The LCI is the measure used to determine state and local shares of K-12 funding in Virginia. The formula uses data (growth in student population, local income, retail sales and property values) to determine a locality’s ability to pay for its schools. It is part of the routine distribution for education funding that occurs every two years. It has been in place for four decades.

Traditionally, the funding formulas disadvantage Northern Virginia, as revenue is redistributed to areas with fewer resources. This year, however, with property values plummeting and school enrollment growing, the formula would actually trigger an improved share of funding for Northern Virginia jurisdictions.

But in his final budget presentation in December, former governor Tim Kaine proposed freezing all Virginia localities at the previous LCI for one year. This move would cost Fairfax, Prince William and Loudoun counties $118 million. Ironically, localities outside of Northern Virginia, whose comparative wealth increased, would get additional assistance.

Northern Virginia is proud to be the economic engine of the state. We put significant local dollars into K-12 because we know that our first-rate educational system is a key to our quality of life, bringing major Fortune 500 companies to our area, benefiting all. Our residents and businesses understand that maintaining excellence in our schools is a critical component needed to lead us out of this national recession.

A freeze in the LCI is patently arbitrary and an insult to our jurisdictions. We have played by the rules, and this unfair change would pull the rug out from under us at a time when we can afford it least. Gov. Robert F. McDonnell and the General Assembly must not allow this proposal to stand.

Sharon Bulova (D), Corey A. Stewart (R) and Scott K. York (I) are chairmen, respectively, of the boards of supervisors in Fairfax, Prince William and Loudoun counties.

By washingtonpost.com editors  | January 31, 2010; 10:45 AM ET
Categories:  HotTopic, Virginia, schools  
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Comments

Thank you to the board chairs for showing leadership with this joint local opinion to the Post, and to the Post for printing it.

From my understanding, as a resident of the City of Manassas, our public schools stand to lose $3.8 million as well due to the freeze, at a time when we have an underserved population in our public schools and we've been hard-hit by foreclosures.

In fact, again, from what I understand, 46% of MCPS students are eligible for free or reduced cost lunches.

Please, Richmond, listen to our local leaders in Northern Virginia and don't freeze the LCI for K-12. Our youth are indeed our future.

Posted by: CindyB1 | January 31, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

It seems like you are advocating taking money from those areas of the state even harder hit by the economy so that N. Virginia can have more. Keeping state funding proportionally equal would be more fair than gving a larger slice to N. VA.

Posted by: Falmouth1 | February 1, 2010 6:30 AM | Report abuse

If we kept state funding proportionally equal then Northern Viriginia would get a lot more funding than the LCI would allow.

The issue is that there is a rule in place on how to apportion educational funding from the state. The rule has been in place for many years and now the state is looking to "change" it, by freezing it, out of political need rather than economic need.

Posted by: BillKillick | February 1, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Before crying for yet more money for the schools, how about some real cuts instead of the scare tactics of sports, etc. For example, Adult Continuing Education classes in flower arranging? Really? (check fcps.edu for ACE curriculum) I thought our schools were primarily for K-12, how much of the budget goes for adult classes of questionable value?

Posted by: FairfaxTaxpayer | February 1, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Stop whining and GOVERN!

If you truly believe that education is so important, then cut useless and counter-productive programs and re-program that money into education. You have a LOT of fat to work with.

If you need someone to do a line by line veto on your spending proposals, let me know.

But, isn’t that YOUR job?

So again, stop whining and GOVERN!

Posted by: Davidsonville | February 1, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

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