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Schools in Hampton Roads could lose millions because of VDOE error

The Virginia Dept. of Education is acknowledging it made a mistake in calculating state aid for K-12 schools, leaving divisions with less school aid than expected.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — A massive math error is hurting Virginia public schools across the state and here in Hampton Roads.

According to the Virginia Department of Education, school divisions will receive approximately $200 million less in school aid because of a calculating error made by an online tool. The tool determines school aid by a variety of factors, including funding from the state, how many students a division has, and how much property taxes an area takes in.

However, this year a miscalculation happened because of a failure to account for the eliminated state-grocery tax, that helped fund Virginia's school divisions.

This miscalculation is costing Hampton Roads schools millions:

  • In Portsmouth, school leaders project a reduction in Basic Aid revenue of $867,000 for 2022-23 and $2.14 million for 2023-24.
  • In Hampton, school leaders expect that the fiscal impact for 2022-2023  is $1.1 million. For 2023-2024, the impact is $2.8 million less than their original budget forecast.
  • In Virginia Beach, the costs are even higher. In 2022-2023 school leaders believe they have a reduction of $3.2 million, and in 2023-2024, the number climbs to $8 million.
  • In Norfolk, schools are impacted by the mathematical error this year at $1.68 million for 2022-2023. Next year, 2023-2024, the schools are projected to lose $4.12 million.
  • In Chesapeake, the error will affect schools by $2.25 million for 2022-2023. By next year, the amount should double at $5.5 million.

A spokesperson for the Newport News school division said they are working to determine what the final fiscal impact could look like.

Kathleen Slinde, president of the Virginia Beach Education Association, said the lack of school aid aggravates an already tense situation.

"The state's original budget was only 10% where normally the state budget is 30% of the money to go to education, and so we are already short," said Slinde.

Slinde said if monetary aid does not come from the state, then it typically results in teachers paying out of pocket. She fears this will add to the burnout several teachers have felt for the past years.

"When the programs that we must include in our public education system are not funded adequately from the state, then the cuts that need to be made... make it that much harder on the people who do the jobs," said Slinde.

A spokesperson with Hampton school division said they hope to offset some of the losses with increases from other tax revenues like the state's sales tax.

The Chairman of House Appropriations Del. Barry Knight made the following statement Wednesday night:

“No school division will have to reduce expenditures in the current fiscal year. Let me repeat, there will be no cuts this year. There is no crisis that will impact any of Virginia's students in fiscal year 2024. The latest sales tax forecast provides an additional $175.3 million for school divisions next year. As budget localities are just beginning to develop the basic aide offset has made this alone provides a net increase of $77.5 million - more than two thirds of the difference between the amounts approved by this body and the figures communicated last June. Let me be very clear. The accounting error of $201.6 million has already been offset by the $441.9 million in new funding proposed by the Governor and House Bill 1400. This is an additional $240.3 million above the miscommunicated amount.”

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