State funding for schools is tied to student enrollment. It was reported at the Oct 8 School Board Work Session that HCPS receives about $5,000/pupil, most of which is tied to average daily membership. School divisions are seeing massive fluctuations in student enrollment. Preliminary enrollment totals indicate that HCPS has lost about 1,500 students from last year. As a result HCPS stands to lose (conservatively) more than $5 million this winter if the standard enrollment adjustment is not delayed.
On a state level, an estimated 35,000 students unenrolled this fall which is expected to result in a $146M decline in basic aid to Virginia schools. This is in addition to the $490M that was cut from the state budget as the COVID pandemic started and an estimated $95M loss due to a decline in sales tax revenue.
It's critical that schools have enough funding to implement robust safety standards for in-person instruction as well as provide technology to support distance learning.
Both the House and Senate Budgets contain language that addresses the loss in sales tax revenue and allocate $200M ($159/student) of CARES Act funding to mitigate the cost of reopening schools. The Senate budget offers to restore some of the $490M in cuts IF revenue growth rebounds. However, only the House budget has critical language that holds school divisions harmless for the decline in enrollment. This language ensures that no school division receives less state funding this year than they did in the 2019-2020 school year.
TAKE ACTION - TODAY: Contact Senate leadership and ask them to adopt the Virginia House Budget language that protects budgeted funding by holding schools harmless for the decline in enrollment due to COVID.