Virginia Excels Announces Legislative Agenda for 2019 General Assembly Session
Priorities include Increasing School Funding, Making Schools Safer, and Expanding Access to Quality Education
RICHMOND – Following Monday’s “Red for Ed” march at the Virginia State Capitol, Virginia Excels released its 2019 legislative agenda. The organization’s agenda focuses on the need to increase teacher salaries, prioritize school funding, implement reforms to make our schools safer, and increase access to early childhood education in the state.
“Monday was a momentous day in the Commonwealth with more than 2000 teachers, students and education advocates gathered on Capitol Square to highlight the need to increase teacher pay,” said Taikein Cooper, executive director of Virginia Excels. “The day also shined a spotlight on other education needs in Virginia, including better funding our schools and improving the quality of education. We are actively working to support legislation that will bring more education opportunities to every corner of the Commonwealth.”
This is the organization’s first year advancing a legislative agenda and includes priorities from both the Republican and Democratic caucuses.
“In order to attract the best teachers in Virginia, we have to pay competitive salaries,” added Cooper. “And, in order to attract college students to the teaching profession and retain current teachers, we must pay our teachers a salary that is competitive with other professions. While there is still a large gap in teacher pay in Virginia, this is a step in the right direction. We also need to be funding teacher preparation to attract great teachers – it is too hard to staff schools, which is why we are supporting increased funding for Teacher Residency programs.”
“It is critical that we increase access to early childhood education in Virginia,” continued Cooper. “We are pleased to see both parties in the Senate working together to implement reforms to our current early childhood system that will streamline programs and bring more public-private collaboration to the way we education children age zero to five.”
“Finally, it is clear that we must do more to ensure students are safe at school,” said Cooper. “That’s why we are prioritizing the school safety initiatives that have come out of the House Select Committee on School Safety, the Safe Virginia Initiative, and measures advanced by the Virginia Senate. This legislation addresses mental health, ensuring schools have enough school counselors, and putting in place systems to keep our campuses safe.”
Virginia Excels 2019 Legislative Agenda
House Budget– 5% Teacher Raise
Virginia Excels supports the teacher pay raise in the House of Delegates budget that was released yesterday, giving teachers a 5% raise without a burden on localities to match the amount.
House Budget– Delegate McQuinn – Amendment for Teacher Residency Programs
Funding would provide $500,000 to increase the Teacher Residency Partnerships between university teacher preparation programs and the Petersburg, Norfolk, and Richmond City school divisions and any other university teacher preparation programs and hard-to-staff school divisions to help improve new teacher training and retention for hard-to-staff schools.
SB1313– Senator Siobhan Dunnavant and Senator Janet Howell – Early childhood care and education; licensing
Requires the Board of Education to establish a statewide unified public-private system for early childhood care and education in the Commonwealth to be administered by the Board of Education, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, and the Department of Education. The bill transfers the authority to license and regulate child day programs and other early child care agencies from the Board of Social Services and Department of Social Services to the Board of Education and the Department of Education. The bill maintains current licensure, background check, and other requirements of such programs. The bill establishes the Early Childhood Innovation Fund for the purpose of facilitating regional public-private collaboration and to field test innovative strategies and evidence-based practices that support a robust system of comprehensive early childhood care and education services to deliver measurable school readiness outcomes and meet regional workforce support needs.
School Safety Initiatives
Virginia Excels supports findings from the House Select Committee on School Safety and the Safe Virginia Initiative, and legislative initiatives to implement these findings in Virginia, as well as initiatives advanced by the Senate of Virginia to improve school safety. Specifically, Virginia Excels supports the following legislation that is still active in the General Assembly:
· HB 2053– School boards; staffing ratios, guidance counselors
· HB 1732– School safety procedures; emergency situations, annual training
· HB 1725– Public school building security enhancements; compliance with Uniform Statewide Building Code, etc.
· HB 1733– School boards; local law-enforcement agencies, memorandums of understanding
· HB 1734– Virginia Center for School and Campus Safety; threat assessment, case management tool
· HB 1737– School crisis, emergency management, and medical emergency response plans; development and review
· HB 1739– Public School Security Equipment Grant Act of 2013; eligible security equipment
· HB 1753– School buildings; electronic room partitions, safety devices
· HB 1947– Elementary or secondary school, private or public; threats to bomb or damage, false information
· SB 1130– School resource officers; training and certification, memoranda of understanding
· SB 1258– School boards; personnel behavior analysts
· SB 1213– Virginia Center for School and Campus Safety; threat assessment, case management tool
· SB 1214– School boards; local law-enforcement agencies, memorandums of understanding
· SB 1215– School safety procedures; emergency situations, annual training
· SB 1220– School crisis, emergency management, and medical emergency response plans; development and review
· SB 1406– School boards; staffing ratios, guidance counselors
· SB 1440– Health instruction; mental health
· SB 1551– School resource officers; memorandums of understanding
About Virginia Excels
Virginia Excels is a 501c3 education advocacy organization that is working for the day when every student in the Richmond region and across the Commonwealth has equitable access to an excellent public education, regardless of race or family income. To learn more about Virginia Excels, visit www.virginiaexcels.org.