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Progress on Key School Funding Issues in Virginia House and Senate Budgets

Logo: At the Statehouse, Updates on the General Assembly Session

Improving support for K-12 public education to help students thrive is a widely shared goal. Students across Virginia deserve funding that unlocks their potential. Unfortunately, the governor’s proposed budget for the upcoming two years, which was unveiled in December 2023, will not provide enough to keep up with the rising cost of current programs for our students, let alone the significant need for additional state funding to bring the state closer to paying its fair share of the costs of providing a high-quality education to every Virginia student. 

Graph comparing House and Senate budgets versus the Virginia Governor's budget

The good news is that both the House and Senate make strong investments for K-12 public education in their respective budget proposals, helping to move the commonwealth toward meeting its fair share of school funding needs. On net, the House and Senate provide $940 million and $1.6 billion more than the governor for Virginia school divisions, respectively. 

This includes implementing some of the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) recommendations to invest in our students who are facing the greatest barriers. Both the House and Senate propose an additional $385 million and $370 million, respectively, for schools serving students from low-income families. Also, there are additional investments of $95 million and $27 million in the House and Senate budgets, respectively, for increasing the staffing capacity for our English language learners. 

In total, the House and Senate budgets each deliver about $900 more per pupil on average in the upcoming two years for the school divisions serving the highest number of low-income students. For a more complete summary of the House and Senate budget choices, check out TCI’s side-by-side comparison.

Bar Graph comparing the House and Senate budgets' investment in students

In addition, both chambers are striving to adequately address school staffing needs by increasing teacher salaries, and the Senate budget funds additional support staff positions. The House and Senate provide an additional $452 million and $350 million, respectively, for teacher salaries and the Senate proposes over $400 million to fully lift the support cap, which currently limits state funding for support staff. 

Currently, Virginia has the third worst teacher pay penalty in the country and the arbitrary support cap has underfunded critical positions that help our students for over a decade. Investing in these proposals will move our teacher salaries toward the national average and provide schools with the staff needed to help our students thrive.

As Virginia’s House and Senate budget negotiators (known as “the conferees”) go deeper into working on Virginia’s “conference” budget, we hope that they continue to keep K-12 public education as a top priority. State lawmakers have tools available to adequately fund our schools and can do so in a way that every student in every zip code has the resources they need to be successful. 

We urge them to make the key investments needed to ensure every student in public schools receives a quality education. Funding these proposals would send a strong message that Virginia values our teachers, our staff, our students, and our public schools. 

Headshot of Briana Jones of TCI

As a research associate at The Commonwealth Institute, Briana Jones supports research efforts across all policy areas. She is passionate about working with marginalized communities to advance social equity. She received her B.A. in Public and Urban Affairs with a concentration in Public Policy from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.


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