On November 7, the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) released its report on the Pandemic’s Impact on K-12 Public Education. In short, chronic absenteeism, behavioral, and mental health issues among students have drastically increased, just as academic achievement has declined. Teacher and staff retention has worsened significantly as more teachers are leaving the workforce and fewer are entering the workforce.
Key recommendations and policy options from the report include:
- Amending the Code of Virginia to allow qualified, licensed psychologists in other fields to be provisionally licensed as a school psychologist. Including language and funding in the Appropriation Act to provide the state share of funding to divisions that experienced an increase in teacher turnover during the pandemic to be used for providing retention bonuses for teachers.
- The Virginia Department of Education should ensure its model memorandum of understanding to help divisions establish partnerships with community mental health providers
- Including language and funding in the Appropriation Act to provide the state share of funding for teacher tuition assistance to divisions that experienced an increase in the number of provisionally licensed teachers during the pandemic to help provisionally licensed teachers in those divisions become fully licensed.
- Including language and funding in the Appropriation Act to help develop and support existing partnerships between school divisions and mental health providers to provide enhanced mental health services to students
More information may be found here.
Additionally, the Virginia Board of Education at its most recent approved its 2022 Annual Report on the Condition and Needs of Public Schools in Virginia. The Annual Report highlights similar concerning trends covered in the JLARC report such as learning loss and teacher recruitment and retention. Despite major investments in recent years, when adjusted for inflation, education funding from the state continues to lag pre-2008-2009 levels and local governments invest $4.2 billion beyond the required local effort for SOQ programs.
Additional data from the report shows that Virginia ranks 28th of 50 for state and local per-pupil funding for Pre K-12 education, and 41st of 50 for state per-pupil funding. These figures demonstrate the gap between state and local funding of public education. The majority of public school funding in Virginia, 53%, comes from localities. The state contributes 40% of public school funding, with seven percent from federal sources. From 2017-2018 to 2018-2019, per-pupil school funding in Virginia increased 3.7%. State spending increased $226 per-pupil, local spending increased $208 per-pupil and federal spending increased $54 per-pupil. Across the country, state per-pupil spending increased an average of 3.5% between 2017-2018 and 2018-2019. Localities continue to provide a greater share of funding, which allows wealthier divisions to go above and beyond local effort causing inequitable resources and opportunities for individualized education in divisions that are less wealthy and those divisions that serve high percentages of economically disadvantaged students.
The full report is available here.
VACo Contact: Jeremy R. Bennett