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McDonnell Proposes $731 Million In Cuts To Education

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By Rebecca Blatt

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell is proposing more than $700 million in cuts to state education funding over the next two years to help close a budget shortfall. But it's unclear what effect the cuts would have in Northern Virginia.

McDonnell's plan eliminates state funding for mentor teachers and school breakfasts. It also cuts salary supplements for teachers who coach teams or chair departments and reduces additional funding for at-risk students. Those changes are fairly straightforward.

But much of the savings comes from changes to what's called "basic aid." Leigh Burden, Loudoun County's Assistant Superintendent of Business and Finance, says the impact of those reductions is hard to estimate.

"It starts with a series of formulas that we're really not privy to," says Burden.

The formulas take into account student enrollment and a district's ability to pay for education.

A lobbyist for the Virginia Education Association says the poorest areas, Petersburg, Lee County and Portsmouth, will be hit particularly hard because they can't make up for state cuts.

Burden says she's waiting to see what House and Senate committees include in their budgets, expected to be released Sunday.

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