Our 2024 Legislative Priorities
During the General Assembly session legislators will make important decisions that will determine how much state funding is given to our public schools. Here are the key policy priorities that we will be focusing our advocacy on:
Making sure the state pays its fair share of school costs
When we place the biggest burden of school funding on local communities rather than the state, it means the quality of each child’s education depends entirely on the neighborhood they happen to live in. Last summer the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) published a comprehensive report on Virginia’s current public education funding showing yet again that the state is not sufficiently funding our public schools and suggesting policy changes to remedy that.
We support JLARC’s recommendations, including updating the state funding formula to more accurately reflect the needs of our public schools, and will be advocating for those changes. This is a crucial opportunity for legislators to address research-backed, nonpartisan recommendations to ensure children across urban, rural, and suburban communities all have the opportunity to attend well-funded schools. Learn more about our recommendations based on JLARC’s report here.
Keeping public funds in public schools
Politicians across the country are using private school vouchers and tax credit programs to shift resources from our public schools to private ones. These programs divert vital resources from our public schools to subsidize private schools instead. Research clearly shows that voucher programs do not improve educational outcomes, but fully and fairly funding our public schools does.
Therefore, we will fight to ensure that public funds in Virginia remain with public schools. We will continue to stand firm in our stance that public funds belong with public schools, and the best way to support our students is to make sure their schools are properly resourced. We will stand against any attempt to divert public money to private schools.
School-based mental health support
Virginia students are navigating a mental health crisis. We know that our students can’t learn as well when they’re struggling emotionally, so mental health support for our K-12 students is a necessity. It’s time to ensure students have access to school counselors, social workers, and therapists by increasing funding and improving student-to-counselor ratios.
When we prioritize our students’ mental health it allows them to focus on their classes and prepare for life after graduation. This year, legislators can expand mental health services by decreasing ratios for school counselors, licensed mental and physical health staff, and other student support staff as well as expanding flexible school-based mental health funding. Learn more about the importance of school-based mental health support here.
Creating safe and restorative environments for every student
Making sure students feel safe, welcomed, and valued in their schools is essential for their well-being and academic success. Our schools are safest when students and families feel welcomed, valued, and supported. An investment in creating positive school climates is an investment in the safety and well-being of our students.
This legislative session our elected representatives can support safe and restorative environments for our students by investing in positive behavioral intervention programs, increasing support for community schools programs, and supporting mentorship programs to provide students with additional supportive adults from similar backgrounds who can make them feel safe, supported, and heard. Learn more about the importance of safe and restorative schools here.
Stop blocking local communities from using sales tax for school construction
Without adequate revenue, we cannot provide adequate school funding. Currently Virginia law bans communities across our state from choosing whether to raise the revenue needed to support their neighborhood schools. This limits the amount that localities can raise for their schools. It’s time to change this and allow localities to institute a local sales tax via referendum if they feel it’s needed to support their schools. Learn more about why this is important here.