A Study of Fiscal Autonomy and Accountability for Virginia Schools

Posted in the Fairfax Forum

Sympathetic

Richmond, VA

#1 Jun 17, 2012
A Study of Fiscal Autonomy and Accountability for Virginia Schools
opinion
Mandatory audits and sound, reasonable audit recommendations and its implementations, as long as it does not negatively impact daily services,
operations and school board constitutional rights, is key.I believe, with great legal minds, checks and balances can be codified into law.

Every year school boards are faced with asking their governing bodies for revenue they need to continue the services they provide and every year they are short changed. Keep in mind that fiscal responsibility and fiscal irresponsibility are separate issues that may be present with or without fiscal autonomy.Accountability requires responsibility. The governing body, before approval of such increase, should require and put in mechanisms for such through codified prerequisites such as mandatory audits etc. prior to tax increase for revenue above which is required bystate law etc. By giving school boards taxing authority and requiring accountability before approval, school boards would have the authority to decide what is going to happen in their schools and to generate the revenue necessary to
make that happen if the governing body accountability requirements are met.
Data may have changed in the below commentary!

Revenue for K-12 public schools comes primarily from state
governments, local school districts and the federal government. In
the aggregate, the states provide 48% of all revenue, school
districts provide 45%, and the federal government provides 7% of all revenue.1 The majority of state level education funding is
appropriated from state general funds, with other funding from
earmarked taxes such as income and sales taxes. State funding levels,established in state policy, can create incentives or disincentives for districts to provide full-day kindergarten. When states provide funding for full-day kindergarten that is equal to or greater than state funding provided for 1st grade, districts have an incentive to offer full-day kindergarten. To date, only eight states provide school districts with funding for full-day kindergarten that is equal to or greater than that provided for 1st grade.2 In contrast, when states provide funding for full-day kindergarten that is less than funding provided for 1st grade, local revenue sources must make up the difference. Funding for local school districts comes primarily from property taxes. In some states, other sources of revenue provide funding streams, such as local sales taxes and local income taxes. To that end, local district taxation, as well as state limits on spending, play a critical role in whether or not local school districts have the ability to support programs such as full-day kindergarten.
Local Control Over School Budgets and Taxes School district budget and tax rate procedures vary among the states. Often, local school boards have authority for both developing budgets and levying taxes to support district budgets. If school districts can levy taxes to support public education, they are considered
fiscally independent. The nature of this taxing authority varies from state to state. For example, school boards in some states may need voter approval for any tax increase, while others may need only voter approval after a specified tax rate is surpassed.
In some instances, school boards do not have independent tax
authority, so another governmental entity typically a municipal or
county governing body approves the budget and levies taxes. If a
school district cannot levy its own taxes, it is considered fiscally dependent.

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