The Bulletin

Report: Virginia spending on school infrastructure down 33 percent

By: - August 13, 2018 5:20 pm

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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Katie O'Connor
Katie O'Connor

Katie, a Manassas native, has covered health care, commercial real estate, law, agriculture and tourism for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Richmond BizSense and the Northern Virginia Daily. Last year, she was named an Association of Health Care Journalists Regional Health Journalism Fellow, a program to aid journalists in making national health stories local and using data in their reporting. She is a graduate of the College of William and Mary, where she was executive editor of The Flat Hat, the college paper, and editor-in-chief of The Gallery, the college’s literary magazine.