Virginia lawmakers weigh in on faulty estimate of school funding

Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 6:19 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) - The Chair of the House Appropriations Committee says Virginia school divisions will not face a budget crunch, despite an error that over-estimated the amount of state funding they can expect.

“There is no crisis that will impact any of Virginia’s students,” Del. Barry Knight (R-Virginia Beach) told members of the House during their floor session Wednesday afternoon.

Knight said the Governor’s budget amendments and the House budget proposal due this weekend will more than make up the difference.

“As you will see when we present the House Appropriations budget on Sunday, no school division will have less money than was originally communicated to them,” Knight said.

The Virginia Department of Education recently identified the error in a calculation tool, a spreadsheet on the department’s website that local school divisions use to determine how much state funding is coming their way. As a result, the tool overestimated state aid to local school divisions by more than $200 million.

“We’re glad we caught this before any more time went by. We, of course, regret not catching this any earlier,” Department of Education Spokesperson Charles Pyle said in an interview Wednesday morning.

He said the department is addressing the problem with the online tool.

“When the House and Senate complete work on their respective versions of the state budget, we will have a corrected tool in place so school divisions can generate accurate estimates on what they can expect from the House version of the budget and the Senate version of the budget,” Pyle said.

Democrats in the House of Delegates said critical functions of the department have suffered, as the Youngkin administration has focused on controversial education policies.

“That means no one is minding the store,” said Del. Schuyler VanValkenburg (D-Henrico Co.), “which is how we get a $200 million oops.”