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Va. tallies No Child Left Behind costs

by Hollly Prestidge

What does No Child Left Behind cost?

Virginia education officials will soon find out.

The Virginia Department of Education and eight school systems have been working during the past year to put a dollar figure on every task associated with the federal law.

The report could ultimately determine whether Virginia continues to comply with the law or withdraws and gives up federal money.

For the 2004-05 school year, the state received $334 million in federal money specifically for NCLB.

The 2005 General Assembly passed a bill requiring the Virginia Board of Education to provide a report to state leaders by Oct. 1 on the costs of NCLB.

Data will be presented to the board on Wednesday. If approved, they will be submitted to the General Assembly for review.

Henrico County was one of the eight school systems to take part and prepare reports on costs at the local levels. David Meyers, Henrico's assistant superintendent for finance, said much of the county's costs came from compensation for employee time.

For example, Meyers said, if the system pays a teacher to work an extra 10 hours at $35 per hour to administer additional assessments required by federal law, that's $350 per teacher. Multiply that by all the teachers giving the tests, and the costs add up.

Virginia is not the first state to do the analysis. This spring, Connecticut released a cost study for the state and its school systems. The study reported a $41 million shortfall at the state level and shortfalls ranging from $3.8 million to more than $10 million in the three school systems that participated.

— Holly Prestidge
Richmond Times-Dispatch


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