NBC29: Rep. Spanberger seeking answers on $201M budget shortfall for Virginia schools

NBC29, DOMINGA MURRAY

Charlottesville is on the list of schools being notified of online budgeting tool mistakes.

In December 2022, the Youngkin Administration became aware the online tool school districts across the commonwealth use for budgeting had overestimated state assistance.

In late January 2023, school superintendents were notified of the issue.

7th District Representative Abigail Spanberger (D) is calling on Governor Glenn Youngkin (R) to be transparent about what his mitigation plans are.

“If you’re told you have ‘X’ amount of dollars to spend on educating students, supplies for classrooms, paying for your staff, and three quarters of the way through the school year you’re told the number you we’re given to budget to work with was wrong, that puts school leaders in a very very difficult place,” Rep. Spanberger said.

Spanberger says she isn’t concerned whether it is a clerical or incompetence issue. She is most concerned that schools are given a game plan.

February 23 Press Release from the Office of Representative Abigail Spanberger:

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.”

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