Statement on the Conference Budget

Thanks to the remarkable efforts by school funding advocates this legislative session, the General Assembly is on track to pass a strong pro-education budget tomorrow! 

Yesterday the General Assembly’s budget negotiators released the “conference budget”, which includes many investments in our public schools that will bring us one step closer to a Virginia where every student in every zip code can receive a high-quality, well-funded public education. There was no guarantee we’d get a strong budget for students, and this conference budget adds more than $1 billion for K-12 public schools beyond what was introduced. The next step is for the House and Senate to vote on the conference budget, which will likely happen tomorrow. Then it will head to the Governor to be signed, amended, or vetoed.

The conference budget agreement includes a number of critical wins that we fought for this session, including:

  • Providing $1.15 billion more in General Fund support for Direct Aid for Public Education and the Department of Education Central Accounts than the governor’s introduced budget, which includes moving some already-existing funds into the Direct Aid category.
  • Providing the state’s share of 3% raises each year for state-recognized school staff.
  • Investing an additional $371 million in at-risk add-on funding to reduce barriers for students from low-income families and students in high-poverty communities. The legislature’s budget proposal also modernizes the data source for this important program, as JLARC recommended in their July 2023 report.
  • Adding $72 million to fund additional instructors for English language learners, including implementing tiered ratios of staff positions based on language proficiency as prescribed in past years by the Virginia Board of Education.
  • Providing more than $4 million over the next two years to implement training for teachers on inclusive practices for students with disabilities and establish regional parent support centers.
  • Providing an nearly $10 million for literacy support and screening
  • Funding $5 million in development and implementation grants for community schools, which is a research-based approach to boosting learning outcomes by addressing student and family needs in a holistic manner. The budget also provides technical assistance for school divisions by creating and funding an Office of Community Schools within VDOE
  • Freeing up significant Literary Funds for school construction, making $250 million from the Literary Fund available for school construction loans, 

We applaud the budget conferees for making public education a priority, and thank everyone who took action to make sure legislators heard our voices.

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