Virginia says error led to shortage in local school funding

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The Virginia Department of Education is acknowledging it made a mistake in calculating state aid for K-12 schools, an error that is leaving divisions with less funding than expected.

The error stemmed from a failure to reflect last year’s decision to hold localities harmless from the elimination of the state’s portion of the sales tax on groceries, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. It means local school divisions will receive $201 million less than expected, including $58 million less for the current school year, according to the newspaper.

“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.”

State Superintendent Jillian Balow notified superintendents by email Friday, according to the newspaper, and House Appropriations Chairman Barry Knight said he was blindsided by the news Monday.

“I didn’t know anything about it at all until this afternoon,” Knight said. “I’m not very happy. They did not bother to tell Appropriations that the numbers had changed.”

“We need to have some open communication here,” he told the Times-Dispatch. “Now it’s on me, what do we do?”

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