Superintendent's Memo #186-11

State seal, Commonwealth of Virginia

Department of Education

July 8, 2011

TO: Division Superintendents

FROM: Patricia I. Wright, Superintendent of Public Instruction

SUBJECT: Release of July 1, 2010 School-age Population Estimates and Review Process

The 2010 General Assembly amended Section 58.1-638, Code of Virginia, eliminating the triennial census of all school-age persons residing within each school division, currently used as the basis for distributing the one and one-eighth sales tax revenues dedicated to public education to school divisions.  Due to the 2010 statutory changes, school divisions are not required to conduct a triennial census count during summer 2011.  The 2008 triennial census count will continue to be used for the distribution of sales tax through fiscal year 2012.

The triennial census was replaced with an annual estimate of the school-age population prepared by the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia.  The amendments to Section 58.1-638 make the new estimate of school-age population for distributing sales tax effective on July 1, 2012, for the 2012-2014 biennium.  Weldon Cooper Center’s initial estimates of school-age population (5 to 19 year olds) are estimates as of July 1, 2010, and are benchmarked to U.S. Census population estimates as of April 1, 2010.  The Department will add the number of special education students ages 2 through 4 and 20 through 21 as reported on the December 1, 2010, special education child count to the Weldon Cooper Center’s estimates.  This total will be used as the basis for distributing sales tax revenues to school divisions beginning in fiscal year 2013.  Please note that the fiscal year 2012 sales tax distributions to school divisions are unchanged by these new population estimates since the fiscal year 2012 distributions will be based on the 2008 triennial census.

The new school-age population estimates will be used for the first time in the Governor’s introduced 2012-2014 biennial budget, to be released in December 2011, and covering fiscal years 2013 and 2014.  Local funding distributions based on the new school-age population estimates will not be released until the Governor’s budget release in December.  Pursuant to Section 58.1-638, the estimates will be updated annually for the purpose of distributing sales tax to school divisions on a budgeted and actual basis.

A data file containing the July 1, 2010, school-age population estimates for each division (including the special education counts) and a document providing an overview of the methodology used by the Weldon Cooper Center in producing the estimates are available on the Weldon Cooper Center Web site at:

To assist in the review of the school-age population estimates prior to implementation in the 2012-2014 budget, school divisions are asked to contact the Weldon Cooper Center with questions about the school-age population estimate for their locality through September 30, 2011.  Weldon Cooper Center staff will provide information about how the estimate was produced, including the methodology and required residency adjustments made to the initial estimates.

The Weldon Cooper Center contact for questions is:

Susan Clapp, Demographer
Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service
University of Virginia