The Virginia Beach School Board passed its 2016 legislative agenda Wednesday on a 9-to-1 vote. The agenda lists items the school district supports and opposes and will go to the General Assembly to review when legislators take on issues involving education. Here are the main points listed in it:
The School Board supports:
- Full funding of biennial “re-benchmarking.” In odd-numbered years, the Virginia Department of Education presents to the Governor and General Assembly an estimate of how much it will cost to fund the state’s public schools for the next two years. The goal is to figure out how to keep the same level of education while calculating in projected costs for the next two years. The Virginia Beach school district supports fully funding the public schools and opposes any method or calculations that could artificially decrease the costs, therefore reducing funding to the schools.
- Removing the support position cap. In 2009, the General Assembly capped the support positions for schools (for example, social workers, psychologists and public transportation workers) at 18.71 positions per 1,000 students. This cap would have eliminated 171 positions in the Virginia Beach district, but using local funding, the school board spent $15.5 million to keep 146 of those. Virginia Beach supports getting rid of the cap and getting full funding for support positions.
- Giving college credits for VA certifications and licenses. Virginia Beach Schools would like students who complete one or more industry recognized credential programs to receive college credit for their certifications. They believe this would encourage students to pursue careers and postsecondary education.
- Reforming assessment and accountability systems. The school district would like to see a more personalized system, which relies less heavily on standardized tests and which takes into account factors outside of school, such as how students’ socioeconomic background influences their school work. The new accountability system would like to see students demonstrate what they’ve learned through a variety of performance tasks.
The School Board opposes:
- Participation in athletic programs by non-public schools students. Virginia Beach Schools said they want to keep a level playing field and make sure all student-athletes are held to the same academic and discipline standards. This year, however, they added parameters if the General Assembly did pass a bill allowing non-public school students to take part in athletics. Some of the requirements for students would be achieving passing SOLs for their grade level, establishing a residency requirement for students to take at least three core courses at the public school, and meeting local GPA requirements.
- Mandatory funding of virtual schools. The district is against legislation requiring it to fund students who enroll in virtual school outside of his or her school division. They fully support the use of technology in the school.
- Unfunded mandates. As of August, Virginia Beach Schools said they have to pay $43 million of their local funding to meet many state and federal requirements. They support either repealing unfunded mandates or giving the district enough money to meet them.