An outpouring of support for increased funding to city schools has dominated Richmond’s budget discussions in the last several weeks. The public swell of support has put pressure on Richmond City Council to close an $18 million gap between the school system’s proposed operational budget and Mayor Dwight C. Jones’ budget proposal.
However, the city might have avoided the situation had state lawmakers not tweaked funding formulas for localities during the economic recession toward the end of the last decade, according to a blog post published today by The Commonwealth Institute, a liberal-leaning think tank based in Richmond. In fact, state support of the city’s schools is $1,291 lower per student in 2016, a 17 percent decrease from 2009, according to the post.
This is not new information, but given the city’s budget standoff, it’s no less salient.
“If the General Assembly had decided to give Richmond the same per pupil, inflation-adjusted aid in 2017 that it gave in 2009, Richmond Public Schools would have an additional $25.2 million. That eclipses the $18 million gap between the Richmond City School Board’s budget and the mayor’s proposed budget," the post read.
Superintendent Dana Bedden and Mayor Dwight C. Jones have characterized the state’s funding formula as problematic. In his budget proposal to council in March, Jones went as far as to say the formula “disadvantages the capital city.”
“In addition, during the recession, the state revised school funding downward to give even less money to localities,” Jones said. “In short, the state stopped funding thousands of support positions and student services, leaving cities and counties to pick up the tab."