Get PolitiFact in your inbox.

By Sean Gorman November 7, 2011

No action yet, but goal remains intact

Bob McDonnell promised in 2009 that more education money would be spent on classroom instruction if he were governor.

"The McDonnell/Bolling Administration will increase the state average for spending in the classroom by 4 percent over the course of their administration,” McDonnell's campaign said in a September 2009 news release.

McDonnell was referring to increasing the average amount spent by all school divisions in the state on instructional costs. He said federal forms showed that the average spent on instruction was 61 percent in the 2006-2007 school year -- the most current figures available during his campaign. That statistic includes money spent on the interaction between students and instructors, such as materials and teachers' salaries.

McDonnell pledged to increase the average to 65 percent by the end of his term in January 2014.

Using 2007, figures, McDonnell estimated his plan would divert $480 million a year in state, local and federal education from administrative budgets into Virginia classrooms.

Tucker Martin, McDonnell"s communications chief, said the most recent data from June 2010 showed the average classroom share of education money in Virginia is still 61 percent. But he said his boss should not be judged by those figures. Martin noted that in June 2010, McDonnell had been in office less than six months and inherited a budget largely written by his predecessor, Democrat Tim Kaine.

Martin stressed that McDonnell will propose two biennial budgets while in office -- one this December, the other in December 2013. He said McDonnell is committed to hitting the 65 percent level of classroom funding by the time he unveils his final spending plan.

"Unfortunately, this `Bob-O-Meter' item is too premature to be calculated,” Martin wrote in an email.

We should note that the Virginia Department of Education has charts on its website showing 66.2 of all public education spending in the state went to instruction in 2010 . But the state uses different formula than the federal government to come up with that figure.

We'll let you know if McDonnell hits his 65 percent pledge. For now, we"re rating it In the Works.

Our Sources

McDonnell for Governor, "McDonnell/Bolling: Almost half a billion dollars more per year for Virginia teachers and students,” September 2009.

E-mail from Tucker Martin, spokesman for Governor Bob McDonnell, October 27, 2011.

E-mail from Carol Donohue, Assistant Director of Government Relations for the Virginia Education Association, October 25, 2011.

Interview with Carol Donohue, October 31, 2011.

Interview with Dan Timberlake, Virginia"s director of planning and budget, November 2, 2011.

Richmond Times-Dispatch, "Bill requires school to spend more on instruction,” Feb urary 1, 2010.

Roanoke Times, "School system prepares legislative priorities,” December 9, 2010.

U.S. Census Bureau, "Public Education Finances: 2009,” Table 6, May, 2011.

U.S. Census Bureau, "Public Education Finances: 2007,” Table 6, July, 2009.

Superintendent"s Annual Report for Virginia for fiscal year 2010, Table 13, accessed November 3, 2011.
Superintendent"s Annual Report for Virginia for fiscal year 2007, Table 13, accessed November 3, 2011.

Latest Fact-checks