Gov. Ralph Northam

Gov. Ralph Northam will call for $1.2 billion over the next two years to fund K-12 education, including additional funding for at-risk students and a 3% teacher pay raise.

Northam detailed his education request at Richmond’s Huguenot High School, the last in a series of budget announcements before unveiling his plan Tuesday in a presentation to the legislature’s money committees.

The governor has so far called for additional spending on maternal health, early education, low-income housing, community college affordability and environmental quality.

“We’re focused on offering every child the opportunity to succeed, no matter who they are or where they are from,” Northam said at Huguenot High.

“The K-12 proposals that I’m outlining today will help do just that,” he added.

The bulk of the new proposed funding, $808.5 million, is for “rebenchmarking,” a required and periodic recalibration of the state’s funding contribution to local school systems.

An additional $145.1 million would go toward boosting teacher pay.

Northam’s proposed 3% raise would go into effect during the second year of the two-year budget cycle that begins July 1. That would come on top of the 5% raise for teachers in the second year of the current budget that will end June 30.

Northam’s budget request will include a $140.4 million boost to the state program that distributes additional funding to school districts to serve large shares of low-income students and other students at risk of poor educational outcomes.

Other requests aimed at serving “at-risk” students include $27.6 million to increase the number of teachers serving students learning English, and $10.6 million to help fund school breakfast and lunches for low-income students above what federal funding already provides.

“That’s more than a 50% increase in that particular fund. This is a historic shift in how we prioritize the needs of at-risk students in our state funding,” Northam said.

The governor is also requesting $125 million in additional, flexible funding for school districts, and $99.3 million to increase the number of school counselors.

Chris Duncombe of the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis said Northam’s proposed investments on at-risk students “will make a meaningful difference for improving equity here in Virginia.”

But, he added, Northam’s overall K-12 plan falls short of what the Virginia Board of Education had outlined, which added up to a $2 billion funding increase over the next two years.


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Twitter: @MelLeonor_

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