Get a Load of This...
The decennial census is coming up in April of 2020 and with this deadline fast approaching, much of West Virginia’s federal funding could be on the line by this coming year’s census. Annually West Virginia receives over 1.2 billion dollars to fund essential programs that help our education system. This funding helps K-12 schools, higher education, and community and technical colleges around the state. Our school breakfast and lunch programs, special education grants, federal direct student loans, Title 1 grants to local educational agencies (these grants are given to schools with high percentages of poor and vulnerable children to give academic support), and career and technical grants are some of the programs supported by the federal funding West Virginia receives based on the census count.
As a product of West Virginia public schools, I have seen firsthand the good these programs do for our students, and now as a first-generation college student I would not be able to attend if it wasn’t for the federally funded Pell Grant Program. This program has carried me along with countless other students through college and, with other imperative scholarships, will help us graduate without a heavy burden of debt so we can pursue our chosen careers. The Federal Pell Grant Program brings 191 million dollars to low income students across West Virginia so they can have access to post-secondary education whether it be to a college, university, community college, or even a technical program.
In 2013, West Virginia introduced the Feed to Achieve Act that brought free breakfast and lunches to thousands of students throughout the state. These programs have helped make sure West Virginia students can focus in the classroom without worry about their next meal. Funding for this program is pulled from the National School Breakfast Program and the National School Lunch Program, along with other local, state, and national investors. Both the National School Breakfast Program and the National School Lunch Program is funded based on our state’s census count and brings over $116 million dollars into our state’s education system.
No matter how wonderful these programs are it is up to us to keep them funded sufficiently for the next generation. An accurate count is vital to receiving adequate funding for students in West Virginia whether they are 5 or 55, federal funding makes our education system better and accessible to all West Virginians.