Governor’s proposed budget includes $1.2 billion new investment in K-12 education

Gov. Ralph Northam announced his proposed budget will include one of the largest new investments in K-12 education ever proposed in Virginia, totaling $1.2 billion.

 The proposed budget includes the single-largest increase for at-risk schools in Virginia history, raises teacher salaries 3%, funds more school counselors and new staff supports for English language learners and makes significant new flexible funds available for local divisions.

 “Students deserve quality public schools, no matter where they live,” said Gov. Northam. “This budget provides extra funding to help close the achievement gap in high-need schools, especially in urban and rural Virginia. Every child should have access to a world-class education, and this budget advances that commitment.”

  Academic achievement gaps are persistent and growing in Virginia, for students of color, economically disadvantaged students, and students with disabilities. Some 40% of Virginia’s public pre-K-12 students are economically disadvantaged, and 13% are learning English, according to fall 2019 reports on student demographics. Teacher recruitment and retention also remain pressing challenges for the state.

 “This historic budget reaffirms our clear and ongoing commitment to educational equity in our public education system,” said Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. “These bold changes will dramatically increase supports for educationally at-risk learners, help us recruit and retain the best teachers, and help school divisions serve the unique needs of their students.”

 Budget highlights include:

• Flexible supports for educationally at-risk students: $140.4 million to increase the “At-Risk Add-On” for educationally at-risk students. This is the largest single increase to this funding source in Virginia’s history.

• Teacher raises: $145.1 million for a 3 percent salary increase in the second year, for funded Standards of Quality instructional and support positions.

• Flexible per-pupil allocation: $125 million in new flexible funds for local divisions.

• Additional school counselors: $99.3 million to increase the number of counselors at every grade level.

• Instructional support for English Language Learners: $27.6 million to increase the number of instructional positions.

• School meals: $10.6 million to help cover the cost of school breakfast and lunch for families who qualify for reduced meal pricing.

• Re-benchmarking and routine updates: $808.5 million for formula-driven enrollment and program updates.

 “Virginia’s teachers are the foundation of our education system,” said Dr. James Lane, state superintendent of public instruction. “By providing both a raise and additional personnel to support English language learners, we are ensuring we can recruit and retain the best talent and provide the unique supports students need to succeed.”