Letter to the Editor: School funding can’t be based on number of students


The Shenandoah County Democratic Committee, at the recent budget hearing of the County Board of Supervisors, voiced support for the superintendent of schools and his budget proposal.

The committee’s stance was especially focused at two groups of students in the county schools whose numbers have increased significantly in recent years. Those eligible for free or reduced priced lunches grew from about 32 percent of the school population in 2007-2008 to 43 percent currently. This group now totals about 2,600 children. In 2003-2004, students with limited English language ability numbered 142; this group now totals 392.

These figures are important. Because many children within these categories have not had the advantages enjoyed by most of their peers, it is known that they need more support to succeed in school. They do not lack ability as students. They do, however, require well-trained help to reach their potential. That help is expensive.

It is disturbing that scores in some subjects have dropped sharply. Critics of the schools lay this at the door of the teachers and administrators. Serious study of the matter indicates that the true cause is lack of resources.

Given these realities, school funding cannot logically be based on the total number of students in our schools, a number which has not varied greatly in recent years. It must be based on the composition of the student body which, as we know, changes markedly from year to year. And it must take account of the needs of the students we have.

It is particularly regrettable that full funding of the proposed increase in the school budget could have been easily accommodated with money from the county’s reserve fund without any tax increase in the upcoming fiscal year.

Bob Lowerre, chairman, Education Committee, Shenandoah County Democratic Committee