Virginia Department of Education makes multi-million dollar error

The mistake happened with a tool on the Virginia Department of Education’s website.
Published: Jan. 31, 2023 at 5:58 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) -School divisions across the commonwealth will now get $201 million less than they were told they would. The mistake happened with a tool on the Virginia Department of Education’s website.

That error won’t just affect budgets for next year, but school divisions will also feel it this year. Out of the $201 million involved in the mistake, $58 million of that would have been for a year that’s almost three-quarters done.

VDOE says the tool didn’t accurately calculate how much schools would receive in state funding after the state eliminated part of the grocery sales tax at the start of the year.

“There was not a shortfall in terms of what school divisions received versus what they were supposed to receive. The shortfall, if you want to call it that, is the difference between the estimates generated by this calculation tool on our website,” said Charles Pyle with the Virginia Department of Education.

Many school divisions were working on or approved budgets for this year and next year with money that is now unavailable.

Henrico school leaders told NBC12 that they thought they would get over $5 million more than they would receive. However, they anticipate being able to make adjustments without impacting student programs.

Richmond Public Schools, on the other hand, will be short about $2.3 million. The division says leaders will discuss the impacts at a budget work session on Wednesday.

“Our role right now is to provide the correct information to school divisions to fix this problem, communicate with the legislature and then it’s really going to be up to the General Assembly and the governor to determine on whether any further steps need to be taken,” Pyle said.

Governor Glenn Youngkin’s office responded in a statement saying partly that the governor is confident that localities’ concerns will be addressed.

But some say that the error is inexcusable like the Virginia Education Association. They said in a statement that already underfunded school divisions across the commonwealth could be getting even less funding than promised.

VDOE says that a corrected tool will be released next week to correctly calculate how much state funding these schools are supposed to receive.