Gov. Northam’s budget request includes $1.2B for at-risk Va. schools, teacher raises

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam speaks to supporters at a Democratic victory party in Richmond, Va., Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. All seats in the Virginia House of Delegates and State Senate are up for election. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)(AP/Steve Helber)
In what Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam deemed a “historic shift,” the state will propose an additional $1.2 billion in funding toward K-12 education with a focus on at-risk students, boosting teaching salaries and providing for more student counselors.

Northam announced the budget request with a speech at Richmond’s Huguenot High School. He said the intention is to reaffirm Virginia’s commitment to education equity and close the achievement gap in urban and rural schools faced by students of color, economically disadvantaged students and students with disabilities.

If approved, Northam’s plan would set aside $140.4 million to boost the “at-risk add-on” — an existing state program that distributes funding to school districts with educationally at-risk students.

Teachers would also receive a 3% pay increase during the second year of the budget with a $145.1 million investment.

Another $10.6 million will go toward covering the costs of reduced meals for families who qualify. Instructional support for English language will see $27.6 million in funding. And an additional $99.3 million will allow for more counselors within the school system.

The largest share of the proposed budget hike — $808.5 million — will support rebenchmarking, a routine reassessment of the state’s contributions to local schools.

Last week, Northam also unveiled a tuition-free community college program, “Get skilled, Get a Job, Give back,” which would allocate $145 million for low- and middle-income students who qualify.

See a video of the announcement below:

Melissa Howell

Melissa Howell joined WTOP Radio in March 2018 and is excited to cover stories that matter across D.C., as well as in Maryland and Virginia. 

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