None of the four bills that would divert public school funding to private schools via education savings accounts passed their own chambers, but other school-related bills made it through crossover.
How would you feel if one-third of per-student funding left your child’s public school to head to private education? That’s what four bills in the Virginia House and Senate aimed to do.
Davis’s House Bill (HB) 1508 survived the longest among the four, making it to the House Education Committee, where lawmakers left it to die quietly. The legislation would have set aside a portion of per-pupil state funding into a savings account, which parents could then use to pay private education expenses. The Virginia Education Success Account aimed to give parents public funds to use toward their child’s tuition, deposits, fees, and required textbooks at any private school in Virginia.
By crossover—a crucial legislative threshold that effectively funnels and narrows the breadth of bills to be considered in the final weeks of the legislative session—none of the four bills remained.
Meanwhile, Democrats continue to push for expanding funding and opportunities for public schools.
In the Senate, Sen. Louise Lucas introduced Senate Bill (SB) 1215, which called for paying Virginia teachers at or above the national average for the position. Following some House modifications, the teacher pay bill would help the commonwealth maintain a competitive salary for public school teachers using recommendations from a stakeholder work group.
Another piece of legislation, SB 1109—introduced by Sen. Ghazala Hashmi—passed the Senate and will be considered by the House of Delegates in the coming weeks. The bill seeks to establish the College and Career Readiness for English Language Learners Grant Program and Fund, which would support English language learner students. The legislation would also provide reimbursement grants to school divisions based on the number of identified English language learners.
Sen. McClellan’s SB 1325 is gaining traction in the House. The bill will help ensure a high quality education for Virginia students by increasing the number of specialized student support positions in schools.
As we inch closer to the end of the 2023 General Assembly, we’ll continue keeping track of key education bills.
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