Where, Oh, Where Is the Logic to the State Educational Funding Formula?

The state spent $4.75 billion in Fiscal 2011 in Standards of Quality Funding, or the equivalent of $3,933 per pupil, according to the latest report from the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, “State Spending on the Standards of Quality (SOQ): FY 2011.” Sums allocated to localities varied widely. Impoverished Lee County in the heart of the Appalachian coalfields received the most funding, $6,573 per pupil. Alexandria, the wealthy city next door to Washington, D.C., received the least, $2,053.

There’s no surprise about the biggest per-pupil recipients — they are all poor, low-population counties in Southside and Southwest Virginia. The list of jurisdictions receiving the least state support, however, is somewhat curious. Not surprisingly, given the redistributionist nature of the funding formula, affluent Northern Virginia localities predominate. But Northumberland, Lancaster and Rappahannock counties also make the list.

Northumberland? The county’s largest industry is menhaden fish processing. It has a per capita income of $22,917. Compare that to the City of Fairfax, which has a per capita income of $31,247, and receives about the same level of state aid. I’m not saying this is bad or good. I’m just interested in the logic… assuming there is any. Despite JLARC’s effort to explain how the state dispenses its SOQ funds, the system for dispensing state funds to local governments remains as opaque and mystifying as ever.


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One response to “Where, Oh, Where Is the Logic to the State Educational Funding Formula?”

  1. As I understand the process, the biggest flaws from the NoVA perspective is the failure to account for differences in the cost of living among the various jurisdictions and the lack of any requirement for local governments to make a minimum effort at raising funds locally.

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