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News

Angry Over School Funding

Supervisors weigh legal action.

By Veronica Garabelli Capital News Service

G ov. Bob McDonnell’s plan to continue using an education funding formula that takes money from more affluent school districts and gives it to less affluent ones has so upset Fairfax County supervi- sors that they are considering legal action.

“This is really a cut-and-dried issue,” said Jeffrey C. McKa , supervisor for the county’s Lee District. “It’s outright discrimination against Northern Virginia.”

McDonnell’s decision will cut $61 million from the Fairfax County Public Schools’ budget, said Paul Regnier, a spokesman for the school district.

According to the school system’s Web site, Fairfax County’s schools budget for the 2010 fiscal year is $2.2 billion – so the funding cut amounts to 3 percent of the budget. Regnier said that could mean larger class sizes, the elimination of full-day kindergar- tens or the curtailment of foreign language emergence services.

McDonnell’s office confirmed Friday that he would uphold the use of the school fund- ing formula proposed in December by then- Gov. Tim Kaine.

Details will be given to agency heads next week, McDonnell’s press secretar , Stacey Johnson, said in an e-mail to Capital News Service.

State Sen. Chap Petersen (D-34) said he was furious when he heard the formula would be frozen at the level set by Kaine.

Petersen noted that because the real es- tate market had fallen in Northern Virginia, Fairfax, Prince William and Loudoun coun- ties received lower scores on the scale than they had in the past. Ordinaril , the lower scores would have resulted in more money from the state for basic education.

“Now, thanks to the plan that was put forward by Gov. Kaine, the rules are being changed on us,” Petersen said.

On Jan. 12, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted 10-0 to look into legal action if the McDonnell administration up- held the freeze in the school funding for- mula.

The formula is called the Local Compos- ite Index, or LCI. It determines which lo- calities can pay the most for basic kinder- garten-through-12th-grade education and which ones cannot. It is calculated using adjusted gross income, taxable retail sales and true value of real property.

This year, Fairfax’s score went from .76 to .71; Loudoun fell from .67 to .58 and Prince William dipped from .44 to .40.

That should have meant more money for those school districts. However, Kaine — and now McDonnell — decided to freeze the formula at the previous scores.

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