Feb 26, 2012 - Weekly Reflection    2 Comments

Week 6: Financing Public Education

“The Evolution of Virginia Public School Finance: From the Beginnings to Today’s Difficulties” (Salmon, 2010) outlines the history of funding public school in Virginia.  From the early 17th century the Commonwealth of Virginia has transitioned through the Virginia Literary Fund, Underwood Constitution, Standards of Learning (SOQ) and the Local Composite Index (LCI).   Researching the history of funding public education in Virginia provides insight into how to equitably distribute funds between poor and rich property districts.

Through the Reconstruction, Twentieth Century and the 21st Century, a common goal through the United States was and still is appropriating state, local and federal funds.  Many reforms have lead to significant changes in educational policy, which presently stands at a peak of transformation with the affirmation of NCLB.  First, in 1870 a newly written Virginia Constitution otherwise known as the Underwood Constitution, included an article that required the General Assembly to provide “compulsory and universal free public education Standards of Quality (SOQ).” Following SOQ, the new measure of fiscal capacity, referred to as the Local Composite Index (LCI) contained a series of algebraic algorithms that “mathematically merged a wealth measure, the true value of locally assessed real property and of state-assessed public service corporation property, and two economic indicators — personal income and taxable retail sales” (Salmon, 2010).  Finally, Landmark cases such as the California Supreme Court, 1971, affected the constitutionality of the disparities with taxpaying ability and funding between school districts, paving the way for new methods of equitable distribution for public schools (Salmon, 2010).

Vast changes have been made to ensure that localities are receiving the appropriate funding, however, the U.S. constitution does not explicitly reference education, so in order to fully fund education, states have taken a primary role with minimal intervention from the Federal Government (Higher Ed).  NCLB the Title I program was the first initiative that the U.S. Government intervened in education policy with the expectation that states would produce Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) in order to be funded (New America Foundation: Background & analysis, 2012; Webley, 2012).  The expectation of producing AYP also requires implementing new assessments, hiring supporting personnel and providing intervention without additional resources; therefore NCLB is criticized for not being fully funded.

In particular, Virginia public schools are financed through a combination of state, local and federal funds, in addition to partnerships in the private sector (Virginia department of education: School finance, 2012).  U.S.  Department of Education Funding is expected to drop from 703,262,031 in 2011 and 700,517,757 in 2012, to 668,283,222 in 2013 (U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Education Funding; 2012). Ever increasing budget cuts require states and localities to find more ways to raise funds for education, as well as obligate administrators, teachers and personnel to have a stronger voice and participate in how funds are allocated by the local school board.


New America Foundation: Background & analysis. (2012). Retrieved from http://febp.newamerica.net/background-analysis/no-child-left-behind-act-title-i-distribution-formulas.

Salmon, R. G. (2010). The Evolution of Virginia Public School Finance: From the Beginnings to Today’s Difficulties. Journal Of Education Finance, 36(2), 143-161.

U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Education Funding. (2012). Funds for state formula-allocated and selected student aid programs. Retrieved from website: http://www2.ed.gov/about/overview/budget/statetables/13stbystate

Virginia department of education: School finance. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.doe.virginia.gov/school_finance/index.shtml

Webley, K. (2012, January 23). Why it’s time to replace no child left behind. TIME , 40-44.


  • I agree with Chelsea. Until writing and reading these posts, I had no idea that public schools received funding from so many places. It actually makes me a little confused. If we’re getting funding from out state, the federal government, and even the lottery, why aren’t we getting enough money? Where is are all of these percentages disappearing to?

  • Very informative post! I didn’t know much about how schools in Virginia are and have been funded so I learned a lot from this entry. I also think you make an excellent point in talking about how the constitution does not explicitly reference education. Education has never had a really strong, or more specifically national/state wide base throughout our history so that could be a reason as to why we are having such issues with funding now.