Friday, January 11, 2008

How much do private schools save Virginia?

According to an expert with the General Assembly's Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC), there are approximately 125,000 K-12 aged students attending private schools in Virginia. Approximately 24,000 students are home schooled.

If these students all entered the public schools system, what would the fiscal impact look like?

In FY 2007, Virginia spent roughly $3,750 per student for State Standards of Quality regular instruction purposes. When add-on costs (special education, vocational education, remedial instruction and English as a second language) are included the figure is $4,229 per student. Using these two figures a high and low end of the cost estimate can be established. Do the math and you arrive at a cost between $468 million and $531 million dollars.

Do the same math for home schooled children and you get a figure between $90 million and $101.5 million dollars. Overall, kids educated in private schools and home schools saved the Commonwealth between $558 and $632.5 million per year.

Given the fact that parents privately educating and home schooling their children are saving the Commonwealth roughly over half a billion dollars per year, isn't tax relief on that basis in order? Virginia offers tax credits to encourage land conservation and historical preservation. Why shouldn't we invest in our future as well by offering tax credits to parents and opening more educational opportunities for all children?