Tell Lawmakers to Fund Our Schools
This is the last week to get in touch with lawmakers to let them know where you stand on including education priorities in the final budget and to let them know you expect better next year. Conferees have been appointed in the Virginia House and Senate to reconcile each chamber’s budget and develop a shared “Conference budget” to send to the governor for consideration.
You should call or email conferees who are in charge of putting forth a final budget. Leave a message if no one answers – you can call any time of day. Don’t forget to mention if you are a constituent for any of these legislators (find your lawmaker here).
Suggested Call Script
“Hi my name is ___________ and I am calling to ask that you help make sure there are meaningful education improvements in our state budget.
This includes the Governor’s proposed improvements to school counselor ratios to the nationally recommended 1 counselor for every 250 students, the new funding for the At-Risk Add-On proposed by the House, and the Senate funding to increase the number of teachers for English learner students.
Can your lawmaker commit to these priorities in this year’s budget, and to coming back next year to work to find the revenue needed to fully fund the Virginia Board of Education’s Standards of Quality?”
WHO TO CALL
Spread the word on social media!
Copy and paste the text below into Facebook or use the Twitter share button below
Critical school funding is being decided on this week by the “conferees” in the General Assembly. Stand up for students and demand full funding today!
Learn how here: https://www.justice4all.org/tell-lawmakers-to-fund-our-schools/
Other major talking points:
- For students to receive the full benefits of a comprehensive school counseling program, school counselors’ caseloads should not exceed 250 students. The average student caseload for school counselors in Virginia has grown from 300 to 360 students over the past decade, with caseloads in some schools reaching more than 1,000 students per counselor. The governor found money to get to the nationally recommended ratio, so the House and Senate should be able to as well.
- The At-Risk Add-On plays a critical role in providing additional resources to school districts with a high share of students who live in low-income households. Funding for this priority is critical for equity in our state, where currently wealthier school divisions are spending more per pupil than our lowest-income divisions. While none of the budgets get to the Virginia Board of Education’s recommended standard for At-Risk Add-On funding, the House comes closest by providing an additional $16 million above the other two budgets. Education advocates hope you prioritize this critically important funding and fund this provision at no less than the House amount.
- The state only funds one teacher for every 59 English Learner students – a rate much worse than neighboring states like North Carolina and Tennessee. In 2019, pass rates for English Learner students were 47.5 percentage points lower than non-English Learner students on the reading SOL test, demonstrating that these students aren’t receiving the instructional support and funding resources they need. Like the governor’s budget, the Senate also found funding to improve the ratio for these critical teachers at the same level. Education advocates are watching this budget item very closely and expect no less than the Senate and governor’s amount in the final conference budget ($27.6 million)
For detailed budget numbers for these priorities see The Commonwealth Institute’s side-by-side of the budgets.