The Arlington County School Board began a letter writing campaign last week in an effort to insure that the county does not lose more than $5.2 million in state aid to local education.
The board fears that much of that state aid would be lost under former Gov. Mills Godwin's proposed state budger for fiscal year 1980. The budget calls for reducing state contributions to teachers' salaries, retirement funds and life insurance benefits and discontinuing the "no-loss" provision for state educational aid, which currently insures that no locality receives less money than it did in the previous biennium unless it loses students.
Superintendent of Schools Larry Cuban informed the board of the impact of the proposed state budget at a meeting on Jan. 26. He noted that state aid was $5,233,387 for the current fiscal year. That amount does not include sales tax revenues, which are ear-marked for schools and would not be affected under the proposed budget. He said that if the no-loss provision, which was adopted by the state assembly in 1972, is dropped when computing state aid, Arlington would lose at least $4 million. The state reduction in retriement contributions would cost the county at least $798,000 and the loss of life insurance contributions would be at least $51,000, he said. This adds up to a minimum loss of $4,840 million, but he added that the loss could go as high as $5,238 million.
Board member Diane Henderson noted that the loss would be at least 10 per cent of the current school budget of $45 million.
Ann Broder, another member of the board, called for a "calm, rational and reasonable approach to the state" and suggested that the board write to all Northern Virginia delegates urging them to continue the no-loss program. She also suggested writing a letter to the governor to inform him of the consequences his program would have in Arlington. The board unanimously accepted the proposal.
The no-loss provision, as explained by Robert Hager, state administrator of basic school funds, was incorporated in state law to insure that schools were never faced with a sudden change in state funding that left their budgets weakened. He said it does not put a limit on the amount of money a school can receive but instead insures that state funding not drop unexpectedly for local schools. The provision supplies money for basic educational programs at the quality standards mandated by the legislature, he said.