Hanover County School Board - Please Address the Underfunding of our Schools
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Hanover County has, it appears, underfunded our public schools in the Fiscal Years 2011 through 2017. By remaining silent this underfunding may be considered by some as “water over the dam.”
But the tangible damage of these anti-education actions to our public education system will continue to undermine even the most dedicated efforts by our teachers and administrators.
In the seven fiscal years (FY11-17) the BOS and the County underfunded Education (Instruction, operations and administrative), on an inflation adjusted basis, by $52.8 million. That underfunding represents ten percent (10%) of the County’s funding for education during this period of seven years.
Putting inflation aside, consider this: In the three years 2008-09-10, the County’s average funding from the General Fund for education was 35.5%. By FY 17 this share had been reduced to 32.8%. If the County had funded schools at the 2008-09-10 share (35.5%) in the Fiscal Years 2011 through 2017, public school funding would have been increased by $25.7 million. The graph above plots Education’s share of the General Fund by fiscal year. The trend line through the graph was calculate by the Excel program.
Capital funding, e.g., renovation, has also been drastically reduced. In the base years 2008-09-10, capital outlays averaged $13.2 million. In the seven following years, capital outlay declined to an average of $4.6 million annually. As the county’s 26 public schools age and suffer the wear and tear of daily use, capital funding has been, illogically, reduced. In the meantime our judicial system has a brand new $50 million courthouse, apparently built with capital funds originally allocated to Education (the renovation of four 75 year old elementary schools)
Faced with this massive shortage of funds, school administrators have been forced to find ways to balance their budget. Critical costs, such as teachers’ salaries and technology, have to be curtailed. With the sharp decline of capital funding, additional maintenance and repair must be done, a further bite out of the operations budget.
Workloads are increased and, with more students in the classroom, teachers have far less opportunity to actually teach. The ultimate harm from this underfunding is to the students.
The result has been overworked and underpaid classroom teachers and many students not receiving an education needed in today’s world.
We ask that the Hanover County School Board convene a series of “Town Hall” meetings that will provide a forum for a civil dialogue between concerned citizens and the School Board.
We recognize that regular School Board meetings adhere to format to assure school business is properly addressed. These monthly meetings are not designed for dialogue. But “Town Hall” meetings would allow an open exchange between citizens and School Board members about concerns and ideas.
These “Town Hall” meetings could very well be held at each of the county’s four high schools, allowing participation from all areas of the county.
We urge the School Board to schedule and widely advertise these “Town Hall” meetings.
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