On July 25th, the Virginia Board of Education (VBOE) convened for its annual retreat. In addition to certain housekeeping items, VBOE elected a new President and Vice President. Due to term limits and other factors, eight of the nine VBOE members are relatively recent appointees of Governor Youngkin. VBOE members voted to elect Grace Creasey as President of the Board and Bill Hansen as Vice President.
Perhaps one of the more important agenda items discussed at the meeting was an overview of the 2023 biennial review of the Standards of Quality (SOQ) process. The Constitution of Virginia requires VBOE to prescribe SOQs for the public schools of Virginia, subject to revision only by the General Assembly. As previously reported, VBOE reviews the SOQs every two years and typically submits their recommendations for consideration by the General Assembly in September or October as mandated by Article VIII, Section 2 of the Constitution of Virginia. The SOQs have wide ranging fiscal impacts to localities as they determine a variety of factors, including school staffing ratios, distribution of state aid, and other requirements for public education. However, regardless of VBOE’s prescriptions, the SOQs have been codified by the General Assembly and any changes would require changes to the code.
Discussion by Board members focused on the recent JLARC report, which as previously reported, contains major recommendations to reform how K-12 education is funded in Virginia. Several VBOE members indicated the importance of consulting VACo and local governments during the SOQ review process. VACo staff intends to provide public comments on this process.
As this is also a rebenchmarking year, any recommendations from VBOE to the General Assembly will be relevant to upcoming biennial budget discussions for FY 24-FY26. A rebenchmarked budget represents the state cost of continuing the current Direct Aid programs into the next biennium, with updates to the input data used in the funding formulas that determine the cost of the programs. This technical process occurs every two years and incorporates the latest data to reflect changes in enrollment, salaries, support costs, inflation, and other factors. This process impacts localities as it helps determine required local effort.
VACo will continue to advocate for additional state support for K-12 education and report any updates on these issues. Information and documents from the annual retreat may be found here.
VACo Contact: Jeremy R. Bennett