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school funding

Calculation error by Virginia education department means districts will receive $211 million less than expected in state aid

Feb. 3, 2023
The department said it failed to factor in a provision to hold districts harmless from the elimination of the state’s portion of the sales tax on groceries.

A calculation error in Virginia means school districts will receive $201 million less in state aid than they expected — including $58 million less for the current K-12 school year that is almost three-quarters done.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that the Virginia Department of Education erred in calculating state basic aid for K-12 districts after the General Assembly adopted a two-year budget and Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed it last June.

The error failed to reflect a provision to hold localities harmless from the elimination of the state’s portion of the sales tax on groceries.

“It was human error on our part,” said Charles Pyle, spokesman for the Department of Education. “We regret that it was not identified until December.”

For large districts, the shortfalls are sizable — almost $18 million for Fairfax County; $10.8 million for Chesterfield County; $8.1 million for Henrico County; and $3.2 million for Richmond.

The effects could be disproportionately damaging to small and rural school divisions that rely more on state aid for K-12 schools than urban and suburban divisions, which bear a higher share of the cost because of their ability to pay.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy has been writing about education for American School & University since 1999. He also has reported on schools and other topics for The Chicago Tribune, The Kansas City Star, The Kansas City Times and City News Bureau of Chicago. He is a graduate of Michigan State University.

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