Budget News No One Wants to Hear

Increases in school enrollment over the next five years will cost the Commonwealth of Virginia at least $275 million in additional education costs, assuming that the average annual cost per student remains the same, about $9,200 — which, of course, it won’t. The growth will be fueled by the addition of 30,000 new students, the result of large birth cohorts and in-migration, according to the latest projections by the Demographics & Workforce Section of the Weldon Cooper Center at the University of Virginia.

Weldon Cooper estimated the added costs to be spread as follows:

Virginia state – $120 million
Local school divisions – $136 million
U.S. government – $19 million.

(Photo credit: Southern Virginia University.)

Share this article


(comments below)


(comments below)


4 responses to “Budget News No One Wants to Hear”

  1. Toomanytaxes Avatar

    What’s so surprising about this? Fairfax County has had little growth in overall student population recently, but has requested increased funding in the nine percent range. To be fair, the system is experiencing declines in student population in older areas of the county, while it experiences growth in the western and southern areas of the county. There are substantial costs for adding students where school facilities are inadequate to handle the new load.

    FCPS spends more on Special Education, which does NOT include additional programs for non-English speaking students, than it does on either the Middle Schools (grades 7-8) or High School (grades 9-12) programs. Despite these large increases in spending, there are many large classes and I was told that 3rd Grade reading scores for Fairfax County trail those of the City of Richmond.

    It would be nice to really know where all these dollars are being spent.

  2. Anonymous Avatar

    ahhh, public education….the ultimate sacred cow.


  3. Ray Hyde Avatar


    Education is the big enchilada.

    And in a few years all those kids in the new schools we build are going to be looking for jobs and a place to live. And roads to drive on (even if they are driving golf carts).

    We need new places, but what’s the plan?

    Prevent growth, charge extra for growth, send growth someplace (undefined) else, pack it all in one spot. And don’t even think about actually raising the money it is going to take.


    Now, if you really want a plan to privatize something, privatize education. Put the competitive spirit in it that we think will come from outsourcing road contracting. Give the parents a choice of how their children will be educated.

    Education is a lot more disperse, far more customizable, and takes a lot less capital per project than roads. If you want to privatize something and do it profitably, then privatize schools. By privatizing schools you can automatically remove their biggest liability today: they are too politicized.

  4. Anonymous Avatar

    “Despite these large increases in spending, there are many large classes and I was told that 3rd Grade reading scores for Fairfax County trail those of the City of Richmond.” TooManyTaxes

    It appears that Fairfax County’s public schools are going the same way as California’s. Thirty years ago, CA public education was the gold standard, ranked at least in the top 2 or 3 states. Now it’s in the basement with Mississippi and Alabama.

    About 20 years ago, a friend who had a new baby was looking for a house in Fairfax County. Why? Because of the great schools. He told me back then that a house might be $50,000 more in a great school district as opposed to a merely good one. That was back in the ’80’s.

    As we know, FC has grown dramatically and a substantial part of its growth has been via immigration, just like CA. From 1990 on, virtually all of CA’s growth has been as a result of immigration. According to William H. Frey, a Brookings Institution demographer, from 1990-1999, 2.2 million more California residents moved to other states than people from other states moved to California. California lost nearly 350,000 residents from July 2001 to July 2004 alone. Still it is growing at a rapid rate as a result of foreign immigration. Certainly there are many reasons to leave CA, including earthquakes, but who can doubt that for the middle class high housing costs and the deteriorating quality of the schools have to have played a big part. According to the Los Angeles Times, “More than two-thirds of L.A.-area residents live in neighborhoods that are solidly rich or poor, according to the analysis, which is based on 2000 census data. That share has been steadily growing for three decades, said one of the study’s authors, George Galster, a professor of urban affairs at Wayne State.”

    Does anybody doubt that the growth in the counties farther out from FC is a result of both high housing costs AND deteriorating schools in FC? The end result will be that FC is increasingly made up of the older residents who bought their houses before the boom and whose kids have long since gone, the rich who can afford to live in the best school districts or send their kids to private school, and the disadvantaged who need more ESL and special ed classes.

    Needless to say, the first two groups will care less and less about the education of the last group, just as in CA, and will be less and less willing to pay higer taxes to support them, especially if the results remain as bad as they appear to be heading now.

Leave a Reply