NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — In a recent joint meeting between Norfolk City Council and the Norfolk School Board, Councilman Tommy Smigiel didn’t hold back when it comes to public school funding struggles.
“For some reason, the public misses the biggest people that needs to be held responsible and that’s the Virginia General Assembly,” Smigiel said.
Smigiel, who by day is the principal at Granby High School, said he is frustrated with the city continuing to get the blame for the state of Norfolk Public Schools when a recent report found that Virginia has received less funding for kindergarten to 12th-grade schools than the national average, roughly $1,900 less per student.
“All of us here have to make sure that the Virginia General Assembly, our state elected officials understand that they are not doing their share,” Smigiel said. “They all run on education. They all talk about the importance of public schools. But when it comes down to putting the money where their mouth is, they don’t do it.”
Recommendations from the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) — Virginia’s non-partisan legislative workgroup — included $3.5 billion worth of changes to the state’s current K-12 funding formula.
Del. Rob Bloxom, (R-Parksley) who is currently one of the conferees working to come to terms on the long overdue state budget, said there needs to be further study before implementing anything.
“We’re going to look at this and take this report very seriously,” Bloxom said. “But you got to look at it with a grain of salt.”
Bloxom insists that because JLARC data was from fiscal year 2021, they missed an infusion of nearly $1 billion that has been allocated in the last several years.
“What will happen is, you’ll have is a House and Senate committee get together and delve into this,” Bloxom said, “and out of that committee there will be proposals on the way to tweak this.”