Adopting a budget is one of the most essential functions of any governing body. Budgets set priorities and signal to the citizenry what is valued by lawmakers at their respective levels of government. Each budget cycle requires the weighing of many factors including revenue projections, economic forecasts, future obligations, statutory requirements, and numerous competing interests and needs from all sectors of our Commonwealth. The decisions lawmakers face during this process are enormous and cannot be taken without the proper due diligence that is required when the future of the state is at stake.
Virginia’s school board members understand the awesome responsibility that comes with developing and executing school divisions budgets each year. As President of the Virginia School Boards Association, I express the association’s deepest gratitude to members of the Virginia General Assembly’s money committees, the conferees who are working on revisions to the biennial budget, and the appropriations committee staff who put in countless hours in service to meet the fiscal needs of the Commonwealth. The budget passed in June 2022 invested heavily in public education. School board members thank the general assembly for this record investment and trust that as negotiations continue over additional adjustments to the budget, that conferees will choose to prioritize public education recognizing its vital role in the future economic growth of Virginia.
To continue the progress made in the biennial budget passed last June, VSBA encourages conferees from the House and Senate to make investments that will lead to stronger public schools in Virginia. We ask that conferees eliminate the SOQ Support Positions Cap, provide funding for student mental health services, support our teachers with additional raises, provide flexibility in the School Construction Grant Program, and fully fund the state share of the expansion of the Virginia Literacy Act.
Lawmakers often state that Virginia is the best place to work and raise a family. School board members could not agree more and encourage budget writers to consider our priorities in their negotiations. The Commonwealth may never have an opportunity to make significant investments into our K-12 public education system as it does today with the unprecedented budget surpluses we have seen in recent years. By making these investments, Virginia’s lawmakers can ensure that our K-12 public education system is second to none signaling the Commonwealth values the importance of public education.
David R. Woodard is the president of the Virginia School Boards Association.