programs available to all students within its 30 schools. School nurses and school resource officers (SRO) are also not funded statewide. Daily bus transportation for students, necessary renovations, and expanding the facilities are also not covered through state funding. Roanoke County Public Schools has invested 69 million dollars over the past seven years in both new construction and renovations. This pushes the annual debt payment to over 8.4 million dollars, which must be paid with local funds. While Virginia is the 12th largest state in terms of population and personal income, the Commonwealth ranks 49th in its support of education, according to the 2002 Congressional Quarterly Fact Finder. While the federal government is not exempt in helping to educate its children, their allotment equals less than one percent of the total amount per student. Only $11 out of the total $7,960 is provided
by the federal government.
With fiscal crunches hitting schools everywhere, funding even basic programs can be a challenge. Fortunately a recent poll of registered voters conducted by the Public Education Network and Education Week revealed that 67 percent of respondents said they want funding for public schools protected from the budget cuts states will be making as they deal with their fiscal crises, and would be willing to consider new taxes if the money were earmarked for education. For the last three years, a slow economy has left Virginia with a series of large budget shortfalls leaving funding for education in great danger. Although the pilot program conducted by the best management practices division of the Virginia Department of Planning and Budget was designed to help school divisions realize greater efficiencies, it was also implemented to identify good practices that can be shared with other school divisions. These individual school system reviews are modeled
after successful programs in Texas and Arizona.
Since its inception in 1991, the Texas program has conducted nearly 100 audits of public school districts and recommended net savings totaling $750 million dollars. The Texas program identified more than $40 million in savings over five years in the Brownsville Independent School District alone. Although Governor Warner proposed legislation to the 2004 Virginia General Assembly to provide regular efficiency reviews in at least 20 school divisions over the next two years, lawmakers approved funding that would enable approximately six small to medium sized jurisdictions to participate in an audit.
For Roanoke County Public Schools, the team was able to identify $294,816 in annual savings for the school division. This figure equates to 0.23 percent of the total school division budget. The report ultimately reveals that Roanoke County is using its tax dollars wisely to educate their 14,358 students and the $133 million that the school division receives locally is well spent. Once the recommendations were presented to the school board in April 2004, Roanoke County Public Schools immediately began taking steps to implement some of the viable recommendations made by the state audit team. In all, the 13 week process produced 16 recommendations in the areas of administration, educational service delivery, human resources management, health insurance, facility operations and maintenance, financial management, transportation, information technology and purchasing. VR
For more information:
Linda McLaughlin Scarborough
Community Relations Specialist
Roanoke County
Public Schools
5937 Cove Rd.
Roanoke, VA 24019
(540) 562-3900, ext. 262
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