20 Virginia education organizations have requested funds in four specific school-centered areas
As budget negotiations continue during the Special Session of the Virginia General Assembly, groups are making their requests known. The Fund Our Schools Coalition laid out its asks in a letter with 20 education associations addressed to Gov. Glenn Youngkin and key budget negotiators including Speaker Todd Gilbert, Majority Leader Dick Saslaw, Chairman Barry Knight, and Chairwoman Janet Howell.
The collective group asked for the legislative leaders to finish the budget quickly and to prioritize key school funding items. Specifically, the request for school funding included investments in staffing, teacher and staff pay raises, school construction and renovation, and protection of public school resources.
We tallied up the total cost of the request, which totaled nearly $2.3 billion. There were 13 requests over four categories, which we’ve broken down below. While most were monetary requests, there were also a handful of suggestions in the document.
Under school staffing, the group requested five items:
- $63 million for additional reading specialists
- $104 million to place a principal in every school and to increase the number of assistant principal positions
- $22 million to increase the number of English learner instructors
- $269 million for the At-Risk Add-On program
- $272 million to lift the cap for essential support staff positions
Under teacher and staff pay, the group requested three items:
- $751 million for the state share of yearly 5% raises
- $137 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to grant teacher retention bonuses
- $15 million in ARPA funds to provide teacher recruitment incentive payments
Under school construction and renovation, the group requested three items:
- $166 million from the general fund to free up $400 million in the Literary Fund, which would then go toward school construction loans or interest rate subsidies over a two-year period
- $500 million in additional general fund resources for school construction
- Fair distribution of school construction and renovation funds
Under preserving resources for public schools, the group requested two items:
- Provide schools with an ongoing, non-eroding backfill for reductions in state or local tax revenue
- Consider student outcomes when considering tax changes
One of the main issues surrounding the timing of the finalized budget centered around school division planning agendas. The letter pointed out that local divisions are unable to finalize their own budgets until they know what to expect from the state.
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