By Jack “Alex” White III, columnist ~ “Small towns, big potential”
In a recent meeting of the Page County Board of Supervisors, someone that I respect suggested that we should examine how much we are “overfunding” public schools.
OVERFUNDING! To be clear, we are likely UNDERfunding our school system.
Indeed, the Board of Supervisors has even been reluctant to allow local schools to keep rollover funds that they saved on behalf of taxpayers (in the middle of a pandemic, no less!).
Things are especially rough here in rural Virginia, where localities like ours routinely struggle to support schools as a result of an unfair funding system that is built into the state constitution.
Thanks to that, counties like Page must be deliberate about funding schools. Education is the single most important function of our county government, and it is a necessary condition for achieving long-term goals like job growth, higher population, and economic development.
Supporting our schools is an essential investment in local development. Whether you are an official attracting new companies or a realtor attracting new people, one thing rings true: the quality of local public schools is a key deciding factor for anyone who is moving to a new county.
Furthermore, funding schools also means investing in the single largest employer in our county . You read that right — the public school system is the county’s No.1 employer, and it employs hundreds of people from all over Page County in the important work of educating our kids .
Everyone wants to talk about economic development; funding our schools is the perfect opportunity for them to “put their money where their mouth is” and invest in our local economy.
Investing in education also translates into lower levels of criminality — which could mean significant savings at a time when we are considering a new, multimillion-dollar jail…
Fiscal responsibility means saving money AND investing in what matters.
I happen to believe that our kids matter. They’re worth the investment.
1. Virginia Employment Commission, Economic Information & Analytics, Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW), 2nd Quarter (April, May, June) 2019.
Jack “Alex” White III is the Executive Director of the Rural Leadership Initiative and the District 1 Representative on the Page County Economic Development Authority — where he was reported to have been “Virginia’s youngest government official” at the time of his appointment.
Alex is a lifelong native of Page County and graduate of Luray High School.
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I love this!!!