Dogwood Daily: The billions missing from Virginia schools
By Keya Vakil
July 8, 2019

And we’re back! We hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July holiday. We’ve got a round-up of all of today’s Virginia news coming right up. And if you’re a fan, please forward to three friends who need to know what’s going on in the Commonwealth and tell them to subscribe here

But First…

The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team won its second World Cup in a row and record fourth overall yesterday, defeating Netherlands 2-0. Their continued dominance comes despite the fact that like most women, they experience the gender wage gap and are paid substantially less than their male counterparts. 

5 Things you need to know today

  1. General Assembly’s gun-focused special session begins Tuesday – Virginia lawmakers will return to Richmond on Tuesday for a special session of the General Assembly. Gov. Ralph Northam called the session to reform the state’s gun laws after the mass shooting in Virginia Beach on May 31, but Republicans have balked at tightening the state’s gun laws. Their opposition to any serious gun reforms is significant, because they control both houses of the legislature, and thus, will control the agenda of the session. 
  2. State Sen. Amanda Chase calls rape victims “naive and unprepared” – State Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Midlothian) is facing significant criticism again, this time for writing on Facebook that people who are “naive and unprepared end up raped.” The statement came during a back-and-forth exchange with a constituent who had asked why it would be important to have a gun in a public park. Chase has since opted not to apologize and instead blamed “leftist trolls” for the backlash. 
  3. Richmond’s public housing agency prepares to demolish and redevelop city’s public housing stock – Damon Duncan, the new CEO of the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority, has promised to tear down and replace the city’s aging public housing stock, according to the Richmond-Times Dispatch. Duncan wants to begin with Gilpin Court, the city’s oldest and largest public housing complex, but the current tenants are afraid of being displaced.
  4. Mining company bankruptcy puts nearly 500 jobs in danger – Blackjewel LLC, the owner of 10 mining facilities in southwestern Virginia, has filed for bankruptcy, citing declining demand for coal as well as financial issues. The Virginia Mercury reports that Blackjewel and its affiliated holding and management companies employed 484 people in Virginia in 2018, and that those employees have been told to “go home.” It’s unclear if those workers will be laid off or relocated, but this marks just the latest blow to an already shrinking industry in Virginia.
  5. Virginia schools have lost billions in funding for support staff – During the Great Recession, Virginia lawmakers cut billions of dollars in funding for school social workers, custodians and psychologists. The economy has since rebounded, but a funding cap remains in place and Virginia schools will receive $430 million less for support staff in the upcoming school year, compared to the 2008-2009 year, after adjusting for inflation. A new report from the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis, a Richmond-based think tank, shows just how damaging the funding cuts have been: While enrollment across Virginia has grown by 55,000 students in the past decade, the number of support staff has plummeted by 2,800 workers.

From the Gram
  • Keya Vakil

    Keya Vakil is the deputy political editor at COURIER. He previously worked as a researcher in the film industry and dabbled in the political world.

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