So what’s the bottom line?
If we look solely at direct aid to localities, the House provides $39.7 million more than the Governor’s introduced budget, and the Senate provides $27.6 million less that the Governor’s introduced budget.
House Budget – (HB30)
Item 137 #4h – Virginia Virtual School
Provides $275,000 in the first year from the general fund for a one-time start-up payment for the Virginia Virtual School. In the second year, $550,000 is provided from the non-general fund to the Virginia Virtual School for personnel costs pursuant to the passage of HB8.
Item 138 #2h – Virginia Student Training and Refurbishment (VA STAR)
Provides $50,000 each year of the biennium from the general fund to support the Virginia Student Training and Refurbishment (VA STAR) Program. The VA STAR Program takes surplus hardware from state agencies or private companies in order to offer students IT repair certification. Once refurbished, the computers are available for school use or distributed to students' families and community foundations needing them. This amendment continues funding necessary for VA STAR to continue the program within currently participating school divisions and to expand the number of participants through the 2016-18 biennium.
Item 138 #3h – Positive Behavior Intervention & Support
Removes $500,000 each year of the biennium from the general fund by continuing the current fiscal year 2016 level of funding for the Positive Behavioral Intervention & Supports initiative.
Item 139 #1h – Expand Local Flexibility for Salary Increase (language only amendment)
Provides additional flexibility to school divisions in implementing and satisfying the local matching requirements for the two percent salary increase for instructional and support positions. School divisions will be allowed to include salary increases provided to instructional and support positions during fiscal year 2017 and fiscal year 2018 by January 1, 2018 in an accumulative manner, to satisfy the required minimum average salary increase of two percent has been provided by the second year by January 1, 2018, in order to be eligible to receive the state's share of a two percent salary increase effective on July 10, 2017.
Item 139 #7h – Re-purpose Additional Instructional Positions to Lottery PPA
Redirects $42.7 million in the first year and $96.5 million in the second year from the general fund to be used toward reinstating the policy of providing school divisions with a Lottery Fund per pupil amount basis.
Item 139 #8h – Re-purpose At-Risk Add-on Range Increase
Redirects $24.7 million in the first year and $24.9 million in the second year from the new funding included in the introduced budget for the increased range used for the At-Risk Add-on, toward reinstating the policy of providing school divisions with a Lottery Fund per pupil amount basis.
Item 139 #9h – Lottery Proceeds Fund Per Pupil Allocations
Provides $85.2 million in the first year and $157.2 million in the second year from the Lottery Proceeds Fund and distributes to school divisions on an LCI-adjusted per pupil amount basis. This amendment reinstates the policy that provides a per pupil amount to school divisions from the Lottery Fund. There are other amendments in this item that provide additional revenues toward this initiative that collectively equal to $105.5 million in the first year and $167.2 million the second year. No more than 50 percent of these funds can be used for recurring costs, with the rest reserved for nonrecurring capital and equipment expenditures.
Item 139 #15h – Parental Choice Education Savings Account (language only amendment)
This language only amendment implements part of HB389, requiring resident school divisions to deposit the appropriate state’s share of SOQ, sales tax, and any applicable special education funding received from the Department of Education for a qualifying student into an approved and established Parental Choice Education Savings account. The amendment further directs local school divisions to receive applicable receipts and invoices from parent expenditures for review of appropriateness of each expense and possible audit and directs the Department of Education and the Virginia College Savings Plan agencies to manage and audit such accounts. This amendment only addresses the transfer of state funds to student accounts, no funding is provided to local school divisions to implement, and is pursuant to the passage of HB389.
Item 139 #18h – Dual Enrollment for Home School Students (language only amendment)
The Department of Education, in collaboration with the Virginia Community College System, will ensure that the same policy regarding dual enrollment tuition-free waiver option shall be applied in the same manner for students enrolled in the public education system and students that are home-schooled. In addition, any reduced tuition cost options afforded to parents of public school students who are enrolled in a dual enrollment course in a community college shall also be available to parents of home-schooled students.
Item 139 #19h – Virginia Virtual School – Transfer of Statewide Average SOQ Per Pupil Amount (language only amendment)
Pursuant to the passage of HB8, the amendment directs the Department of Education to transfer the average state share of Standards of Quality per pupil funding and the state's sales tax per pupil amount of funding to the Virginia Virtual School for each student that is enrolled in the Virginia Virtual School and who was previously enrolled in public school. Funds shall be transferred based on the number of actual students enrolled in the Virginia Virtual School with a limit of 5,000 students per school year.
The House Budget retains the Governor’s proposal to accelerate VRS rates to reflect 100% of actuarial rates in FY ’18.
NOTE: HB29 (the Caboose budget bill) contains $188 million to fully repay deferred retirement contributions for all VRS plans EXCEPT the public school teacher plan. That repayment allows for the subsequent reduction in rates for those plans in the FY’17-FY’18 biennial budget. Because the teacher plan is excluded from this repayment, the VRS contribution rates faced by local school divisions remain at their higher levels.
Item 139 #20h – Work Group to Review Use of Chromebook (language only amendment)
Directs the Department of Education to convene a workgroup to review the current utilization of separate computer labs in schools for instruction and testing requirements and consider a transition to the usage of Chromebooks and similar other types of tablets or laptop computers in the classroom for students to use as an integrated part of instruction and Standards of Learning testing using the TestNav 8 software system upgrades. The workgroup will review the Department's Virginia Digital Textbook Marketplace contract and guidelines for the implementation of the pilot projects established in eight school divisions in the 2015-2016 school year and review the effectiveness of the pilots at the end of the year for improving academic success. Further, the workgroup will consider repurposing new issuances for educational technology grants to be used to purchase or lease Chromebooks or similar laptop devices.
Senate Budget – (SB30)
Item 133 #1s – Student Assessment Growth Model
Increases to $300,000 the amount for the new pilot for an analytical model to measure student growth in schools. Preliminary results shall be provided to the President of the State Board of Education and the Chairmen of the Senate Finance and House Appropriations Committees in order to help evaluate whether a statewide approach should be implemented.
Item 135 #1s – Technology Assistance Services – eMediaVA
Provides additional funding for eMediaVA to help provide competency-based, personalized learning opportunities. With over 150,000 users, eMediaVA, a repository of audio, video, and interactive multimedia learning resources, is free to all public, private, and homeschool educators and their students statewide. The additional funds will be used to increase teacher training and awareness statewide, including implementation of a single log-on, development of customizable curriculum resources and additional infrastructure to distribute materials.
Item 136 #1s – Develop Model Exit Questionnaire for Teachers (language only amendment)
Directs the Department of Education to develop a model exit questionnaire that school divisions may administer to exiting teachers, which was a recommendation of the January 2016 Feasibility Study on the Implementation of a Program to Track Teacher Turnover in the Commonwealth.
Item 139 #1s – Salary Increase
Adds $48.9 million the first year and $2.2 million the second year, to the $83.2 million the second year in the budget as introduced, for the state's share of a teacher compensation supplement. This amendment advances the effective date of the 2.0 percent compensation increase from July 10, 2017 to December 1, 2016.
Item 139 #2s – Reverse Additional Positions Mandate
Reverses the funding in the budget as introduced for an additional 2,500 positions by the second year. Instead, in a companion amendment, the funding in the first year is re-directed towards advancing the effective date of the 2 percent compensation increase from July 10, 2017 to December 1, 2016, and in the second year $96.4 million is distributed in a more flexible manner at the discretion of the most pressing needs of each school division's particular circumstance.
Item 139 #3s – Additional Support for Classroom Needs (Half Non-Recurring)
This amendment allocates $96.4 million as flexible, additional support for classroom needs of school divisions. The amount of funding per school division is calculated in the same manner as the proposal in the introduced budget for state's share of one instructional position per elementary school and two instructional positions per middle and high school; however, this Additional Support for Classroom Needs contains no such mandate to hire additional new on-going positions. Funds may not be used for central office purposes, at least half must be used for non-recurring expenses, and no local match is required.
Item 139 #4s – Additional Support for Classroom Needs (One-Time Funding)
Provides one-time funding of $24.2 million as flexible, additional support for classroom needs of school divisions. Funds may not be used for central office purposes, must be used for non-recurring expenses, and no local match is required. The distribution by school divisions is calculated based on the state's share of a per pupil amount.
Item 139 #6s – At-Risk Add-On Range
Reflects savings of $21.5 million from the budget as introduced, by adjusting funding based on changing the percentage At-Risk Add-On range from 2.5-14 percent of Basic Aid in the budget as introduced to 1-14 percent. This represents an increase from the current range in fiscal year 2016 of 1-12 percent based on each school division's percentage of students eligible for free lunch, based on family income levels. A companion amendment also captures savings of $15.3 million in this program.
Item 139 #7s – Rebenchmark Virginia Preschool Initiative Per-Pupil Amount
Provides $2.9 million each year to re-benchmark the per pupil amount for the Virginia Preschool Initiative to the first year of the biennium based on the same percentage that Basic Aid increased in the first year due to re-benchmarking in the budget, as introduced. This action increases the per pupil amount from $6,000 to $6,250, an increase of 4.2 percent.
The Senate Budget retains the Governor’s proposal to accelerate VRS rates to reflect 100% of actuarial rates in FY ’18.