McDonnell/Bolling: Almost Half a Billion Dollars More Per Year for Virginia Teachers and Students
"Education Funding: In the Classroom, Where it Counts"
More Money into Classroom, Less into Bureaucracy Dramatically Increases Education Dollars without Tax Increase
-Prioritization of Education Dollars Will Increase Teacher Salaries-
ALEXANDRIA - Bob McDonnell, Republican gubernatorial candidate and former Attorney General of Virginia, and Bill Bolling, Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, announced today a bold education proposal that will dramatically increase money for Virginia’s teachers and students by $480 million a year, without a tax increase. The two announced their “Education Funding: In the Classroom, Where it Counts” plan at an early afternoon news conference at T.C Williams High School in Alexandria.
The McDonnell/Bolling plan focuses on putting more education dollars directly into the classroom. Currently, only 61% of Virginia education dollars go to the classroom. By shifting money from the central office and administration and increasing the percentage of funding that goes directly to the classroom by an average of 4%, the McDonnell/Bolling administration will direct an additional $480 million each year to Virginia’s teachers and students. Several cities and counties across the Commonwealth have already achieved the 65% goal, to the benefit of the students and teachers in those localities. The McDonnell/Bolling plan will take this commitment statewide.
Speaking about today’s historic announcement, Bob McDonnell noted, “Our children will get the best education by having the best teachers, best textbooks and best technology, not excessive administration and bureaucracy. We need to put education funding in the classroom, where it counts. With $480 million more dollars directed to Virginia’s classrooms we will be able to increase pay for the best teachers and ensure that teacher salaries are equal to or better than our neighboring states. We must focus on putting as much money as possible in the classroom to give our children the knowledge and skills they need to compete for the high-quality jobs they deserve. We are committed to making sure that our teachers across the Commonwealth have the resources they need to teach our children. Children learn in the classroom, not the central office. That’s where we must invest our education dollars. This is a bold proposal that will benefit Virginia’s teachers, students and parents.”
Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling remarked, “One of the most important challenges currently facing Virginia is the need to improve the educational opportunities we are providing to our children. In order to do this, we must continue making an increasing financial investment in our public schools, but we must also learn to spend our educational dollars more wisely. By increasing classroom spending by 4% over the next four years we can redirect $480 million a year in existing education funding to the classroom, where it can help boost teacher pay, reduce class sizes and improve textbooks and technology. This will help improve the educational opportunities we provide to our children, and now is the time to make this important and common sense investment.”
Patrick Salyer, a member of the Virginia Beach School Board had this to say about the McDonnell/Bolling initiative; “It is absolutely vital that we channel more of our public education dollar into the classroom. That is where our money does the most good. I believe that Bob McDonnell and Bill Bolling have the right plan to get more of taxpayers’ education dollars into the classroom, where it counts.”
Fairfax resident and mother of four, Teri Christoph shared her excitement about the McDonnell/Bolling plan, “As the mother of three young children currently attending public school in Virginia, I am thrilled to hear of Bob McDonnell and Bill Bolling’s plan to put more resources into the classroom and into recruiting top-notch teachers. A good, well-supported teacher translates into improved classroom performance, so providing them with the means to teach effectively is crucial. Bob and Bill’s simple, yet significant, “65% solution” would give our educators access to the tools they need for a successful classroom, and I foresee it having a particularly beneficial impact on our special needs and immigrant populations. I can think of no better way for our tax dollars to be spent!”
Both Bob McDonnell and Bill Bolling believe that a well-educated workforce is the key to successful job creation. Every child in the Commonwealth must have an opportunity to be well-educated and prepared for the jobs of today and tomorrow. The McDonnell/Bolling administration will work closely with the Secretary of Education, School Board members, administrators, teachers and education policy leaders to ensure that we maximize the use of money and resources in the classroom for our teachers to use and our children to benefit from.
*Part Four of Bob McDonnell’s Education Reform Plan*
"Education Funding: In the Classroom, Where it Counts"
Almost Half a Billion Dollars More Per Year for Virginia Teachers and Students
The cornerstone of the McDonnell/Bolling Administration will be an all out effort to create new jobs and greater opportunities for all Virginians. A well-educated workforce is the key to successful job creation. Every child in the Commonwealth must have an opportunity to be well educated and prepared for the jobs of today and tomorrow.
The Virginia Standards of Quality (SOQ) serve as basic standards of minimum quality education in Virginia. As Governor, Bob McDonnell will fully fund the Standards of Quality in each budget; however, fully funding the Standards of Quality alone will only get us part way to having the best educational system in the nation.
One of the top priorities for a McDonnell/Bolling administration will be ensuring that more money is spent in the one place it does the most good: the classroom. When examining education funding, it is not just a question of total funding, but also whether the most money possible is going into the classroom for our children and teachers, rather than inflated bureaucratic budgets.
Our children will get the best education by having the best teachers, best textbooks and best technology, not excessive administration and bureaucracy. Students learn in the classroom, not in the central office. We need to focus as much of our money as possible in the classroom to give our children the knowledge and skills they need to compete for the high-quality jobs of the future. Bob McDonnell and Bill Bolling will ensure not only that our teachers are paid at the national average, but also that our best teachers are some of the best paid in the nation.
4% Average Increase in Education Funding in the Classroom
The McDonnell/Bolling administration is committed to prioritizing education funding and ensuring that more taxpayer dollars are spent in the classroom on teachers, students, classroom materials, technology, and innovative programs. Throughout the administration, we will transition more money from the central office and administration, into the classroom. The McDonnell/Bolling Administration will increase the state average for spending in the classroom by 4% over the course of their administration.
Examining classroom spending in Virginia based on the federal “instruction” expenses definition, we are spending a statewide average of 61% of education funding in the classroom for instructional use, according to the latest spending numbers (FY 2007). Instructional spending is the total current operation expenditure for activities dealing with the interaction of teachers and students in the classroom, home or hospital, teacher salaries, textbooks, equipment, as well as co-curricular activities. It also includes amounts for activities of teachers and instructional aides or assistants engaged in regular instruction, special education, and vocational education programs.
Out of every dollar we put to education, only 61 cents is going directly to the classroom for our children and teachers. This is unacceptable and it will change under the McDonnell/Bolling administration.
By raising the average for classroom spending by 4%, we will put roughly $480 million more dollars in the classroom annually when fully implemented.
This will mean real money to recruit and retain the best and brightest teachers, which is critical to a great education for our children. With $480 million more dollars in the classroom, we will be able to increase pay for the best teachers, and ensure that teacher salaries are equal to or better than our neighboring states. It will mean real money for our children to have updated textbooks, new technology, and supplies in their classroom. Teachers should not have to pay for basic supplies out of their own pocket. It will put the focus back on the classroom, and require real streamlining of the administrative offices.
Increasing the statewide average by 4% will ensure 65% of taxpayer dollars are spent in the classroom. This is an objective that is realistic and critical to the future success of our public education system. In fact, several cities and counties - large and small - have already met the challenge. According to the latest Federal F33 forms, for FY 07 (2006-2007 school year) Hanover County, Bristol City, Shenandoah County, Fluvanna County, Colonial Beach, Smyth County, Norton City, Greene County, Augusta County, Colonial Heights City, Fauquier County, Amherst County, Page County, Roanoke County, Harrisonburg City, and Highland County all spent more than 65% of education funding in the classroom on instructional items.
In coordination with the Secretary of Education, School Board members, administrators, teachers and public education policy leaders, we will evaluate ways to incentivize localities to increase their classroom spending to a minimum of 65% - an increase in the statewide average of 4%. Each locality will have the flexibility on how to increase the amount of money spent directly in the classroom.
To ensure that the legislature, our state Department of Education, and individual school districts have the most useful and accurate information about best practices and the effectiveness of programs, the McDonnell/Bolling administration will partner with the Curry School of Education at UVa to provide analysis and evaluation of education spending utilizing consistent and accepted performance metrics. This Virginia Center for Education Policy will leverage existing and new resources to provide capacity for policy analysis in education and human capital development from preschool through higher education. This is critical to understanding how to best spend dollars in the classroom and provide accountability to taxpayers who are paying for our public education system.
Unfortunately, there are many examples of questionable spending. Take these examples from localities across the Commonwealth:
- $1.1 million per year on cell phones and pagers
- Increased employees “fringe benefits” by $915,000, while cutting funding for equipment, material and supplies by $900,000
- Superintendent salary of more than $225,000 and an additional $14,000 a year for a car (a district with just four schools)
- $450,000 for travel, $332,000 for office supplies, and $190,000 on Dues & Association Memberships.
Inflated budgets are not just at the local level. While student enrollment has increased only 7.9% from 2000 through 2008, the budget of the “Department of Education, Central Office Operations” has grown from $75,546,367 to $120,313,176, a 59% increase.
Increasing money in the classroom is common-sense for teachers, parents and students alike, but it also affects student performance. Using the Virginia Department of Education’s Data definition of Instructional Spending, the school performance in localities that spend 65% in the classroom is higher.
- 15 of the top 20 school districts with the highest total average on the English/Science/Math Proficiency federal benchmarks were school districts who spent at least 65% in the classroom.
- 17 of the top 20 school districts with the highest average on the English Proficiency federal benchmarks were in school districts that spent at least 65% in the classroom.
- 13 of the top 20 school districts with the highest average on the Math Proficiency federal benchmarks were in school districts that spent at least 65% in the classroom.
- 18 of the top 20 school districts with the highest average on the Science Proficiency federal benchmarks were in school districts that spent at least 65% in the classroom.