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In the States: SHEEO Names Teacher Workforce as Top State Policy Priority

The new “In the States” feature by Kaitlyn Brennan is a weekly update to keep members informed on state-level activities impacting the education and educator preparation community.

SHEEO Releases Top Policy Priorities

Last month, the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) released a report detailing the top policy priorities for state higher education leaders across the country. Economic and workforce development, along with the K-12 teacher workforce, tied for the top two state policy priorities of SHEEOs. Rounding out the top five priorities are (3) state funding for financial aid programs, (4) state operating support for public colleges and universities, and (5) higher education’s value proposition. Other issues include declining enrollment and college affordability, tied for sixth, (8) public perception of higher education, (9) addressing equity gaps, and (10) college completion/student success. Rising issues outlined in the report include a focus on student health and safety and student basic needs, like food, housing, and childcare.

School Districts Across Virginia Can Expect to Receive Millions Less than Anticipated Due to Calculation Error

School districts across Virginia can expect to receive approximately $202 million less than they had anticipated for the current and upcoming fiscal years due to a miscalculation that overestimated state funding. It is reported that he problem originated with an online tool that allows school districts to see how much funding they should expect from the state. School district personnel have had access to the tool since June 2022 and have built their budgets around the estimations. But, in January, it was found that the numbers being provided by the tool were wrong. The online tool failed to take into account funding changes connected to the elimination of the state’s tax on groceries.

Charles Pyle, spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Education issued a statement saying:  “We certainly understand that this has caused some consternation …We’re very sorry that this happened in the first place and that it wasn’t caught earlier.”

The funding error will have the greatest impact on districts that rely the most on state aid, such as those in poor, rural communities that cannot depend on a higher property tax base to fund their schools. For some of the districts, state aid makes up 80 % f the funding used to provide basic educational services.

“Unfortunately, this error by [the state education department] may inhibit our ability to make critical FY 24 investments, such as teacher staffing, special education teaching assistants, and crucial safety improvements,” said Diana C. Gulotta, spokeswoman for Prince William County Public Schools.

The funding error comes as school districts across the nation are grappling with critical staffing shortages including teachers, school leaders, bus drivers, and more.