Franklin County Public Schools suffering $3.7 million deficit from state funding cuts

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Va. – Multiple school districts in our region are dealing with the fallout of a loss of state funding, leaving some schools millions of dollars in deficit for next year’s fiscal budget.

Franklin County Public Schools is one district suffering from a $3.7 million deficit in the next fiscal year after funding cuts from the state.

The amount of funding the state awards to school districts is calculated by three things, 50% true value of real property, 40% adjusted gross income, and 10% taxable retail sales.

This equation makes up what is called a school division’s Local Composite Index or LCI.

“It was quite a surprise. I think everyone expected it to go up, but I’ve never seen it go up 6 points before,” said Dr. Kevin Siers, Superintendent for Franklin County Public Schools.

Franklin County’s LCI last year was .39, but for 2024, it jumped to .45, one of the largest increases in the region.

Dr. Siers believes the LCI scale is skewed in Franklin County because of the cost of homes on Smith Mountain Lake.

“Vacation areas, where people have second homes and aren’t necessarily moving in to raise their families, it doesn’t really account for that because the student population in Franklin County is about 50% in poverty,” he said.

To make ends meet, Franklin County is looking at closing two elementary schools, Burnt Chimney Elementary and Henry Elementary.

Maybe even a third school in the future, narrowed down between Snow Creek Elementary, Callaway Elementary or the Gereau Center.

“We’ve looked at a four-day school week. We’ve looked at just general budget cuts throughout departments,” said Siers.

Other places in Southwest Virginia saw an increase too.

Floyd, Pittsylvania and Rockbridge counties and Lynchburg all have higher LCI’s, meaning less state funding.

Lynchburg City Schools is facing a $17.7 million deficit, coming from not only a drop in state funding, but also the end of CARES Act funding.

“We are doing everything we possibly can to make sure we are advocating for the resources our students need. And hopefully, when we come out of the General Assembly process this year, there will be better news,” said Lynchburg Deputy Superintendent, Dr. Reid Wodicka.

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