In Wake of Administrative Error, Spanberger Seeks Answers on $201 Million Budget Shortfall for Virginia Schools

Feb 23, 2023
Education
Press

Following School Superintendents Being Notified of Online Budgeting Tool Inaccuracies, the Congresswoman & Several of Her Colleagues Called on Governor Youngkin to Brief Virginia’s Congressional Delegation on his Plans to Resolve the Issue

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Following an error that resulted in a $201 million budget shortfall for schools across the Commonwealth, U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger is leading an effort seeking answers from Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin on how he plans to address the millions of dollars school districts were relying on but now will not receive.

In December 2022, the Youngkin Administration became aware that the online tool that school districts across the Commonwealth use for budgeting had overestimated state assistance. It was not until January 27, 2023 that school superintendents were notified of this oversight.

In a letter sent to Governor Youngkin, Spanberger asked for more information about how the Commonwealth will ameliorate this error and mitigate the impact on Virginia’s public schools — particularly given that school districts have been planning their budgets for months with the inaccurate tool provided by the Commonwealth. Her letter was also signed by U.S. Representatives Don Beyer (D-VA-08), Gerry Connolly (D-VA-11), and Jennifer Wexton (D-VA-10).

“As Representatives for families in rural and suburban parts of Virginia, we are concerned about the adverse impact of this mistake on parents and students in our districts,” said Spanberger and her colleagues. “Rural and low-income school divisions rely more heavily on state (rather than local) funding, meaning every missing dollar will be harder to find. Additionally, suburban school districts we represent are contending with losses in the millions. These dollars were budgeted to address learning loss, support teacher recruitment and retention, repair school infrastructure, provide mental health support for students, and more. Realizing this funding does not exist deals a serious blow to schools already trying their best to support students, educators, and parents.”

In addition to calling on Governor Youngkin to increase transparency between the Administration and school districts across the Commonwealth during the resolution of this funding issue, Spanberger and her colleagues also requested that Virginia’s Congressional Delegation be briefed on how the Governor plans to remedy this error.

They continued, “To ensure our shared constituencies receive the support they need in responding to this mistake, we strongly encourage your administration to communicate clearly and often with school board officials, relay your plan for mitigating the budget shortfall, and provide additional guidance to schools.”

Click here to read Spanberger’s letter, and the full letter text is also below.

Dear Governor Youngkin,

On behalf of the public school divisions we represent in Congress, we write to you regarding the error your administration made, resulting in a $201 million budget shortfall for school districts across the Commonwealth.

In December 2022, your administration became aware that the online tool school districts across the Commonwealth use to determine the amount of state funding they will receive was inaccurate. Weeks later, on January 27, 2023, superintendents were notified of this oversight and that the tool they had been using for six months to establish their budgets had overestimated state assistance.

As Representatives for families in rural and suburban parts of Virginia, we are concerned about the adverse impact of this mistake on parents and students in our districts. Rural and low-income school divisions rely more heavily on state (rather than local) funding, meaning every missing dollar will be harder to find.

Additionally, suburban school districts we represent are contending with losses in the millions. These dollars were budgeted to address learning loss, support teacher recruitment and retention, repair school infrastructure, provide mental health support for students, and more. Realizing this funding does not exist deals a serious blow to schools already trying their best to support students, educators, and parents.

To ensure our shared constituencies receive the support they need in responding to this mistake, we strongly encourage your administration to communicate clearly and often with school board officials, relay your plan for mitigating the budget shortfall, and provide additional guidance to schools. We also request that you provide a briefing to Virginia’s Congressional Delegation on how this error will be remedied.

While it is understandable that mistakes can happen, school districts deserve the utmost transparency from your administration. The next few weeks and months will be critical to reassuring schools, students, and parents that the Commonwealth is handling this issue expeditiously.

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