A dialog about Fiscal Autonomy for Vi...

A dialog about Fiscal Autonomy for Virginia Schools

Vic R

Richmond, VA

#1 May 13, 2007
A Study of Fiscal Autonomy for Virginia Schools

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.

By giving school boards taxing authority, 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.
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.

Follow the links below for more information on fiscal autonomy
(independence) for schools.

http://www.vsba.org/taxingauthority/Taxingaut...
http://www.vsba.org/taxingauthority/Taxingaut...
http://www.vsba.org/taxingauthority/Taxingaut...
http://www.vsba.org/Taxingauthority/taxingrep...

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