Schools could lose money

By Yvette Yeon - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Richmond city schools  leaders have  been crunching some big numbers trying to fill a funding gap of $17.8 million, but tonight we've learned city schools  may soon be hit with even more cuts.

Richmond schools may stand to lose another $11 million if a proposal by Governor Bob McDonnell passes. If it does, Richmond will be a total of $28.9 million in the hole.

After four budget work sessions, the school board will now have to start from scratch. All because Governor Bob McDonnell proposed to have what's called a "Local Composite Index" unfrozen. Something former Governor Tim Kaine put in place.

"The additional cuts on top of what we've been working with is really a burden," said Kim Bridges, School Board Chair.

The composite index is a formula that takes student population, real estate values, and sales tax numbers to calculate how much state money should be given to each school district. In other words the wealthier the school district is, the less money it'll get.

If the index is unfrozen, based on Richmond's growth in the past two years, the city could lose $11 million from the state, but Richmond's mayor says the formula doesn't tell the real story.

"It's just absolutely beyond reason. 70% of our kids are on school lunch. We have more property in the city of Richmond that is non-taxed because we have the state capital here so it doesn't make any sense," said Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones.

But whether it makes sense or not, the school board must now figure out how to cut more jobs, programs, and pay; in case the governor's proposal is approved.

"We've always felt that Richmond is inequitably treated by the funding formula," said Jones. "It's just a hit we can't take."

And Richmond isn't alone. Across the commonwealth 97 school districts will be negatively impacted. If this passes, Chesterfield County schools will have to cut $3.4 million, Henrico schools, $1.4 million, and Hanover, $700,000. One area that will benefit: Fairfax County. Its schools could get an increase of $62-million.

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