No tax increases were needed to provide all day kindergarten in Virginia Beach. Here’s why

The School Board voted 8-1 to use reversion funding for implementing full-day kindergarten. (Southside Daily/Courtesy of Pixabay)
The School Board voted 8-1 to use reversion funding for implementing full-day kindergarten. (Southside Daily/Courtesy of Pixabay)

VIRGINIA BEACH — The School Board recently passed a motion (8-1) to use $4.9 million of reversion funds to provide all day kindergarten.

Use of reversion funds for ongoing projects and purchases is rare, in fact it hasn’t happened since the recession hit in 2008, said School Board Chief Financial Officer Farrell Hanzaker.

Traditionally reversion funding is used for replacing school buses, classroom equipment, roof repairs and so on, he said.

Reversion funding is a separate fund of money that is comprised of funding unspent at the end of every fiscal year in addition to leftover funding from state, federal and city revenues, Hanzaker said.

That money is collected at the end of the year and placed in a special fund to be set aside for extra costs outside of the yearly operating budget, and a small portion of the reversion funding is then put in a special school reserve fund for further emergency funding, he said.

The primary goal of that money is to be used for emergency, one-time purchases and City Council has authority over when and how the School Board can use it, he added.

It was by City Council’s recommendation the School Board use reversion funding rather than request a tax increase to get full-day kindergarten funding, Hanzaker said.

RELATED STORY: Virginia Beach Schools will ask the city for money, and it might mean a tax increase

“It was unusual,” he said, noting City Council did make it clear this was to be a one time event.

“We’re making an exception,” is what Hanzaker said they were told.

He believes flooding took precedence in City Council’s mind when it came time to decide how they were going to balance the yearly budget.

Another hurdle the School Board had to consider was the possibility of running out of reversion funding given reversion funding isn’t finalized until October of the next fiscal year, Hanzaker said.

He was assured by City Council if that happened, they would be able to request to use money from the special school reserve fund.

Hanzaker isn’t too concerned about not having enough money to cover the expense of implementing full-day kindergarten, however.

To sum things up, full-day kindergarten will be available at 52 of the 55 elementary schools for the 2019-2020 school year, said Natalie Allen, VBCPS spokeswoman.

Three of the schools are currently undergoing construction and will get the full-day kindergarten program for the 2020-2021 school year, she said.

There will be no tax increase for the public to fund that program, she and Hanzaker assured.

Next up on the list of concerns the School Board would like to tackle is: teacher compensation.

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