For the past couple of weeks VEA has been monitoring some disturbing developments at the state general assembly regarding educational funding and teacher compensation. If you recall, VEA was initially disappointed with the Governor’s proposed budget. Although it included a full rebenchmarking of the Standards of Quality, it had very little support for teacher compensation.
Since that time the Senate and House have weighed in with their budgets for education, and after careful study, it’s apparent that the House budget, if approved, would be very damaging to education funding not only for the two year term of the budget, but on into the future. Penny Hodge, in her NEWS item to all Roanoke County employees today, explains the proposed House budget best.
The Governor’s, House, and Senate budgets all include approximately the same total dollars for Roanoke County Schools. There are, however, some significant differences in how those dollars are allocated to the school system. The House budget proposes to permanently change the funding formula so that future raises given to teachers are capped within the funding formula at the rate approved by the state. This effectively shifts the cost of future raises in excess of the typical 1% annualized state approved rate from the state to the local school divisions. The House has included funding for raises and additional construction grants in their 2008-09 budget so that it appears that the total revenue is as good as the Senate and Governor budgets. However, the funding for the raises and construction may or may not be included in future budgets and, in the meantime, the funding formula will have been permanently changed to reduce state aid to schools.
As many of you know, VEA has a team of legislative specialists led by Rob Jones and Doris Boitnott. They have been keeping tabs on the situation and provide daily reports. The budget proposals are currently being debated by budget conferees. These legislators, a small band of senators and delegates, will hash out the details of the entire state budget and try to come to consensus. If the Senate conferees aren’t able to dissuade the House conferees from their destructive path for education funding, then the last line of defense would be the Governor’s veto pen. We simply don’t know for sure where the Governor will side in that battle, if it comes to that.
So our best option now is to contact the budget conferees directly and immediately!
The VEA has made this very easy.
Visit this link
and click on
Tell Budget Conferees to Support Public Education in Budget.
Rob and Doris have set the system up to send a letter on your behalf to each conferee. You can use the VEA wording or modify it with your own thoughts and ideas. Either method is effective. The key is that the conferees need to hear from educators, school administrators, school board members, Board of Supervisor members, classified employees, and exceptional citizens. Everyone needs to let the conferees know that the House budget’s educational funding solution is simply unacceptable.
Should you need further reading to more fully grasp the danger of the proposed House budget, I suggest you read the recent editorials in The Roanoke Times and The Virginian-Pilot. Also, please visit the official RCEA blog and VEA’s Daily General Assembly Reports to keep up on the latest on this battle for the present and future in Virginia Public School Education.