Governor proposes raises for Virginia teachers, more money for ‘at-risk’ students

RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has included a raise for teachers and an increase in funding for "at-risk" students in his proposed $1.2 billion Virginia education budget.

"Students deserve quality public schools, no matter where they live," Governor Northam said in a statement that accompanied his proposed budget. "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."

Budget highlights, according to the Governor's Office, include:

Flexible Supports for Educationally At-Risk Students:
$140.4 million to increase the “At-Risk Add-On” for educationally at-risk students.

Teacher Raise
$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

Rebenchmarking and Routine Updates
$808.5 million for formula-driven enrollment and program updates

"This historic budget reaffirms our clear and ongoing commitment to educational equity our public education system," Secretary of Education Atif Qarni said. "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."

Four in 10 Virginia public school students are considered "economically disadvantaged," according to the Governor's Office.

The governor will present his full budget to the Joint Money Committees on December 17.

House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) issued a statement Monday afternoon responding to the governor's K-12 budget proposal:

"Over the past two decades, Republicans in the House have consistently supported investments in K-12 education, including last year's 5 percent pay raise -- one of the largest in Virginia history. Our goal has been and remains to support teachers and put more money in the classroom. We look forward to working with the Governor to make substantial investments in good schools and will continue to push to make sure every dollar possible is driven into the classroom where it can impact our students the most."

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