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Virginia Governor Proposes a $1 Billion Boost for Public Schools

by Karen Goff — December 17, 2015 at 10:00 am 14 Comments

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe/file photoVirginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) was in Fairfax County on Wednesday to announce a proposed $1 billion investment in education, both at the K-12 and college levels.

The governor, speaking at Mark Twain Middle School in Alexandria, says his two-year budget proposal aims to prepare all students to succeed in the “new Virginia economy” by providing them with needed resources.

“I have heard from parents, students and teachers all over the commonwealth that we have been asking our schools to do more and more with less and less,” McAuliffe said. “But with thoughtful, bold ideas like the ones I am proposing, we will get back on the right track and ensure that we are laying the foundations for the New Virginia Economy.”

“This historic proposal represents the largest new investment in public education in over a decade, and the largest total investment in the history of the Commonwealth. I believe that if we want to have a world-class economy, we need a world-class education system, and this is where it starts.”

Some of the public education priorities funded in the biennial budget include:

  • New Teachers: Providing roughly 2,500 additional instructional positions – $139.1 million
  • Rebenchmarking: Fully funds the cost of rebenchmarking the Standards of Quality and additional updates – $429.8 million
  • At Risk Add-On: Provides flexible funding to divisions based on free lunch population to be used for drop-out prevention, parent engagement, English Language Learners, etc. – $50 million
  • Cost to Compete: Supports a cost of competing adjustment for school support positions in areas with a high cost of living – $41 million
  • Salary Increases: Provides a 2 pecernt salary increase for teachers, non-teacher instructional positions, and support positions consistent with state employee raises – $83.2 million
  •  Teacher Retirement: Increase general fund contribution to teacher retirement – $30 million

McAuliffe will present his full two-year budget to the Commonwealth Budget Committee on Thursday.

It is not yet known exactly how the commonwealth’s additional funds will directly impact Fairfax County Public Schools. However, FCPS has said it is facing about a $65 million budget gap for Fiscal Year 2017.

FCPS Superintendent Karen Garza will announce a proposed budget in January, which will be voted on by the board by May. A community Budget Task Force has looked at various changes, including larger class sizes and eliminating language immersion programs, as a means of narrowing the gap.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, which gives about half its annual budget to FCPS, said part of the deficit starts at the state level. Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova said last week the state’s contributions have not kept pace with rising enrollment and other mounting budget needs in public schools.

“The state has reduced its share [of funding all Virginia schools] by $1 billion,”Bulova said at the Supervisors’ Dec. 8 meeting. “Counties have tried to make up the difference. In Fairfax, we have increased about $200 million for schools.”

Grassroots group #IamFCPS said it was encouraged by McAuliffe’s pledge.

“Solving the Fairfax Country Public Schools budget crisis will require collaboration, tough decision-making, and long-term financial planning by state and local elected officials,” Suzanne Zurn of Reston, founder of #IamFCPS, said in a statement. “We look forward to working with the Fairfax County delegation, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, and the governor to ensure Fairfax County Public Schools receive the necessary funding to continue the legacy of excellence that has benefited the entire region.”

Photo: Terry McAuliffe/File photo

 

  • Richard

    I suspect there’s no chance at all that Republicans in Richmond will support this increase in education spending. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors needs to act to fully-fund FCPS without expecting this windfall to occur. Make the hard decisions needed to raise the funds!

    • meh

      Or perhaps cut the fat. Perhaps freeze teachers salaries, get rid of some of the middle management, reduce the amount of money on ESL, etc.

  • Bruce Grande`

    not sure if we need a 2 year budget, we might have 30% fewer students in FCPS after the 2016 election.

    • Richard

      And plenty of employment at the concentration camps.

  • SouthRestonResident

    In regards to the bullet item At Risk Add-On, what percentage of that money is going to the children of “undocumented citizens” and how much is going to “ESL” support? It concerns me as a legal US citizen that’s also a tax payer that $50 million is going to such things when the return on investment is most likely negligible

    • Richard

      Yes, because it’s always better to have uneducated people running around our communities than educated. Oh, right, uneducated kids running around who aren’t in school.

  • Baron von PloppenHausen

    Plop….

    Rebenchmarking: Fully funds the cost of rebenchmarking the Standards of Quality and additional updates – $429.8 million

    Gotta make sure it conforms to the Common Core…

  • Chuck Morningwood

    But where’s the money going to come from?

    • SouthRestonResident

      Mr. Morningwood, I regret to inform you that if you are a tax payer and a property owner, you will be carrying this burden. As you see, we are a compassionate and Christian Nation.

      And as such we must empty our pockets despite whatever consequences it may have so that others that have no desire to assimilate, speak English or follow the rules of this land can have a free education for their child and get free English lessons.

      I hope you understand.

      • Richard

        Actually, there’s nothing that assimilates immigrants better than educating them in public schools.

        • Meh

          You’re making an assumption that they actually want to learn. You can lead Manuel to the fountain but you can’t make him drink the water.

    • Just me

      Oh, I’m sure that they will hack at the other county jobs so that they can mutilate the skeleton crew already trying to run the rest of the county.

  • Ming the Merciless

    “The state has reduced its share [of funding all Virginia schools] by $1 billion,” Bulova said at the Supervisors’ Dec. 8 meeting.

    Like Garza, she loves to pick the peak year as her baseline.

    If you look at Virginia aid to localities (i.e., local school systems), then in real dollars it is down close to a billion since 2009. That’s bad, right? Except aid to localities in real dollars in 2015 INCREASED a billion relative to 2000. Essentially, aid increased two billion from 2000 to 2009 then dropped one billion from 2009 to 2015, and thus we’re still up a billion (again, in real dollars). Which sounds a lot less bad than “the evil Republicans in Richmond cut a billion from school funding!”

    Virginia aid to localities per pupil in real dollars increased 21% from 2000 to 2009, then dropped, but in 2015, Virginia aid to localities per pupil in real dollars is still 4.4% HIGHER than it was in 2000.

  • It is needed to, among other things, keep Virginia economically viable in the new era of reduced defense spending. For example, our 3rd grade class sizes are about 28 pupils per class and in Florida the state law will not allow more than 20 pupils per class in grades K-3rd. That is critical to students learning.
    And we need expanded occupational and technical training for the new economy.
    And we need to expand our universities research potential and the Governor is proposing to do just that.
    Virginia’s economy has too long been focused on Federal military spending and that is going away. Recent new national data indicates that Virginia has the 48th ranked growing economy and Maryland is 49th ..for the same reasons.
    We need to think out oft he box and it appears that the Governor is trying to do that.

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