What it’ll cost Va. just to keep up with school funding

WASHINGTON — Just keeping up with existing school funding plans in Virginia is expected to take over $491 million more out of the next state budget than the current two-year plan, the state’s Senate Finance Committee heard last week.

Inflation and other costs are contributing to the increase in spending. (Courtesy Virginia Department of Education)

The biggest driver of the two-year increase is basic aid to local schools based on projected enrollment growth, an estimated 2 percent annual increase inflation and other costs, Virginia’s Deputy Superintendent Kent Dickey said.

Significant additional spending is projected for the state’s biennial rebenchmarking process for employee health care costs, to support children from low-income families, and to cover increases in special education enrollment. Last school year, there were more than 200,000 special education students across the state.

Significant additional spending is projected for the state’s biennial rebenchmarking process. (Courtesy Virginia Department of Education)

A few state costs are projected to drop this budget cycle, including transportation costs and the per-pupil cost of textbooks. Last budget cycle, transportation funding was based on higher gas prices than school divisions are paying today. For textbooks, Dickey says more schools are using cheaper digital options.

While not yet finalized, the minimum funding requirement for state aid to local school divisions and upcoming projections of the state’s Medicaid costs over the two-year period are two of the largest pieces of the puzzle as outgoing Gov. Terry McAuliffe prepares his second and final budget proposal. McAuliffe is scheduled to present the plan to the General Assembly in December.

Editor’s. Note: Gov. McAuliffe will join WTOP at 10 a.m. Wednesday for “Ask the Governor.”

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