General Assembly ‘skinny budget’ fills school funding shortfall caused by Dept. of Ed error
The spending plan includes $132.7 million for the current school year and $125.8 million for the next year
While the General Assembly has been unable to make a deal on changes to Virginia’s two-year budget, lawmakers agreed Saturday to appropriate millions to Virginia’s public schools to address a $201 million error as part of a stopgap budget.
The spending plan includes $132.7 million for the current school year and $125.8 million for the next year, according to a Virginia Mercury report.
Virginia school divisions last year used the Department of Education’s basic aid calculation tool to determine how much funding they were likely to receive from the state to support their budgets. However, in December, the department found the tool did not account for a provision to hold localities harmless from Virginia’s elimination of the state portion of the grocery tax.
As a result, school officials faced funding shortfalls for the remainder of the school year and inaccurate estimates for their budgets for next year.
The shortfall statewide was about $201 million.
Sen. Janet Howell, D-Fairfax, a co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee, said on Saturday that under the stopgap budget, school divisions would receive at least as much as the forecasted amounts communicated by the Virginia Department of Education last summer.
“These updates are critical for local school divisions to be able to build their budgets for the coming year,” said Howell.
The funding fix is one of only a few measures that the House and Senate agreed to pass as part of the so-called “skinny budget” before they left Richmond Saturday. Others include funds for the state’s revenue stabilization fund, state construction projects and the Virginia Retirement System trust fund.
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