VA Superintendents Call for Increased State Funding
Tuesday, superintendents from both sides of the Blue Ridge gathered to offer a common message to Richmond. They are urging the governor and General Assembly to properly fund education, but to let the locals decide how to do it best.
The superintendents say state support for public schools has steadily declined over the last six years, forcing personnel cuts and putting a heavier burden on cities and counties.
That's only the start of what they say is wrong with Virginia's education policy.
In a room full of top administrators from Fluvanna to Rockingham, there was little support for the A-to-F school-grading scale, passed by the General Assembly.
"If we were to issue a grade to legislators related to providing sustainable funding for education... for transparency of their vision for public education... in all due respect, we would only need one grade, not five," said Gena Keller, superintendent for Fluvanna County Public Schools.
These educators, who represent 20 school divisions and more than 100,000 students, say the grading scale is far too simplistic. They say Virginia's commitment to public education is best shown through investment.
"As leaders, we have a moral responsibility to fund public schools in a manner that every child would get a powerful school experience," said Scott Kinzer, superintendent of Harrisonburg Public Schools.
Several of the superintendents and school board members say the state is instead taking money away from public schools and putting it toward private efforts that have less accountability.
"If the belief truly is that a charter school or a private school can do so much better if they don't face the same constraints as politicians put on public education, then let's remove those constraints and let the public educators do the job they're capable of doing," said Lowell Fulk, member of the Rockingham County school board.
The superintendents say another misguided effort is the bill to create the "opportunity education institutions" to rescue failing schools. They say it removes local control and has been proven not to work in other states.
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