Alexandria, VA- Got run down schools? Virginia Governor Ralph Northam wants to work with the Virginia General Assembly to reconfigure the formula for public school systems to receive more funding from the Commonwealth’s coffers.
Funding on school infrastructure projects fell 33 percent between 2008 and 2018, according to a study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
“It’s a tremendous challenge, and it’s a good point you make – especially in the distressed areas of Virginia,” Northam said after a tour of the Campagna Center’s Early Learning Center at St. James. “Not only keeping schools up to date with the infrastructure, but also building new schools that can cost literally millions of dollars. And so, we are currently in the process of looking at school funding to make sure that it’s fair, that all areas across Virginia have access to a world class education, and that really starts with infrastructure and modern day schools. It’s something that I’m working on with legislators.”
Northam also toured the Early Learning Center, which provides education to preschoolers ages 3-5, for families who are not eligible for Head Start services. He then read them a few stories.
“Early childhood education is important. It’s really the foundation of education,” Northam said. “We talk a lot about our economy and workforce development, but it really starts before children go to kindergarten.”
In Alexandria, City Manager Mark Jinks, in his fiscal year 2020 budget message, said that the most significant expenditures over the last decade have come from capital project funding.
“During this 10-year time period, per capita spending on City and School cash capital and debt service has increased 108.9 percent from $51.4 million to $107.4 million,” Jinks wrote. “The most significant changes in expenditures have been in capital project funding, which includes cash capital and debt service, primarily for ACPS and secondarily for City projects. The highest rate of growth in non-capital related expenditures was outside of the City government, namely transit services, which grew by 4 percent.”
Northam signed a directive last month establishing an Executive Leadership Team on School Readiness, which will work to ensure that all at-risk three-year-olds and four-year-olds in Virginia have access to a publicly-subsidized education option.
It was also the second time this week that Northam appeared in Alexandria, after announcing at the Neighborhood Health community on Monday that more than 300,000 Virginia adults have received health insurance since Virginia expanded its Medicaid program.