VDOE error results in funding cuts to Virginia school systems

Published: Jan. 31, 2023 at 5:04 PM EST
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PULASKI COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - A miscalculation from the Virginia Department of Education is resulting in a big financial loss for school districts all across the state.

Superintendents in southwest Virginia believe these massive cuts will become costly, especially in rural school districts.

“We’re looking at a state revenue loss of $225,000,” Pulaski County Assistant Superintendent Chris Stafford said.

“A little over $214,000,” Wythe County Superintendent Wesley Poole said.

“You’re robbing the poor and it’s not fair by any means,” Grayson County Superintendent Kelly Wilmore said. “Your poorest districts are the ones get hit the hardest and that obviously is not a good idea.”

Virginia eliminated its grocery tax in January 2022, when the proposal made by former Governor Northam went through. That same proposal was also made by Governor Glenn Youngkin on the campaign trail.

The revenue allocated to schools from the grocery tax, which no longer exists, still made its way into the 2023 and 2024 budgets.

“It appears that the state is flush with money in Richmond, proposing tax cuts and other spending, but that money is not getting down to the local level for public education,” Stafford said.

“You have a rainy day fund for a reason and it’s starting to rain, so on all of us especially, it’s raining harder on us for folks down here,” Wilmore said.

“It caught us flat-footed,” Poole said. “I mean, they kind of blindsided us and then it blindsided the legislators as well.”

School districts don’t have this money in hand yet, but now they’ll never get it, and it’s already been designated for certain funds..

“It’s really demoralizing when there’s a huge budget surplus in Richmond, but we could potentially be looking at a reduction in force that would affect our teachers and other staff here locally,” Stafford said.

However, the school districts say there’s still hope.

“I realize it’s a mistake, it happens, but ‘oh well I’m sorry’; that’s not cutting it,” Wilmore said. “Get together, get people in a room and make it happen and get this covered.”

With this error, these school districts will be facing losses this year but they’ll see even bigger cuts in fiscal year 2024.