Public School Foundations' Support of K-12 Public School Divisions in Virginia
Public school districts nationwide are subject to increased performance expectations as financial resources have decreased and school budgets are stretched to their limits. Less financial support from the state government means that localities must fill the gaps in their respective budgets to avoid reductions in or elimination of public school programs, services, and personnel. Insufficient funding for public education concerns many stakeholders. Virginia is one of many states in which localities have established public school foundations as a means to obtain private funds to support a variety of purposes in their public school divisions. Research was conducted ten years ago regarding the characteristics of education foundations supporting Virginia's public school divisions. The purposes of this study were to determine whether or not there was an increase in the number of public school foundations in Virginia during the past decade and to identify the foundations' longevity, purposes, governance, staffing, finances, revenue sources, and fund utilization of public school foundations that support of local school divisions.
The study used a descriptive mixed-methodology design in which both quantitative and qualitative data were collected. The mixed methods study gathered data sequentially in two phases. The first phase identified the existing public school foundations in Virginia, and the second phase collected state, local, district, and foundation data to describe the growth, purposes, governance, staffing, finances, revenue sources, and fund utilization of the public school foundations supporting K-12 public school divisions in Virginia.
More than two-thirds of Virginia's public school divisions were found to be supported by public school foundations, which is a 42% increase from the findings of a similar study conducted one decade ago. Not surprisingly, the common purpose of these public school foundations are to partner with the community to support students through additional financial and social resources that support, enrich, or enhance their educational opportunities. The results of this research provide public school districts, foundations, and other interested parties with information on the operations of Virginia's public school foundations, which may aid in the establishment of new foundations or provide data and insights to improve or alter current foundation activities.