Report: Virginia spending on school infrastructure down 33 percent
Between state and local governments, in 2016 Virginia spent 33 percent less than in 2008 on school capital projects, like building new schools or renovating existing ones, according to a new report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington, D.C., research and policy nonprofit.
Virginia is among 36 states in which capital spending fell in that time period, the report states.
Several localities across Virginia are struggling with school maintenance.
Norfolk faces complaints from parents about mold and insect infestations in its schools, and students in Lee County rearranged seats to avoid leaking ceilings. Richmond schools have grappled with everything from ceiling tiles falling on students to broken stall doors in the bathrooms. However, the school system and the city had to recently make a joint admission that the school system had nearly $7 million in leftover money from past projects that was previously unaccounted for.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities used data from the Census Bureau to generate its report, along with state budget documents. It shows that, in 2008, state and local governments spent $1.72 billion on school construction, renovations and upgrades. But in 2016, adjusted for inflation, that number dropped to $1.16 billion.
Both state and local governments cast blame on each other for the funding shortfall. In its report, the center notes that overall state per-pupil funding dropped by nine percent in that time period, compared to a three percent decline at the local level. Though earlier this year, the state created a new committee to study the need for updated school facilities.
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