Education Editorial: VA Beach budget battles

By Dr. Bill Bosher, NBC12 Educational Specialist - email

Christmas not only brings a season of gift giving, but it marks the beginning of budget making for school divisions across Virginia. While they have been in preparation since June, most will be announced in the month following the season of "glad tidings and cheer".

In Virginia where school boards are constitutionally responsible for schools, boards of supervisors and city councils are responsible for generating revenue, about 60% of the cost of local schools. This brings a natural tension.

In Virginia Beach the Boards are about to tweak their last nerves …and the most of the gifts are not even wrapped. The City Manager and Superintendent have been working on changing a formula for the amount of money that the schools will receive each year. Having arisen from previous acrimonious budget battles, the agreement sets the percentage of funding that the schools will get from specified accounts…dominantly real and personal property tax.

While in Chesterfield, my colleague and friend, County Administrator Lane Ramsey proposed decreasing the percentage to schools…and I supported him. The reason was simple. The rate of growth in senior citizens and other required services was greater than the growth in the school population.

Virginia Beach administrators were entering a similar agreement until members of City Council decided that they do not want to have a formula…they would prefer to duke it out. For years Virginia Beach has had a reasonable approach to a difficult task and the administrators and school board want to keep it that way…City Council members may not really like what they have asked Santa for Christmas.

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