CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WRIC) — At its meeting on Tuesday night the Chesterfield School Board voted unanimously to adopt a legislative program laying out a list of priorities for its delegation to the General Assembly.
The board held a meeting in late November to discuss their goals with the 10-member legislative delegation, which includes three state senators and seven members of the House of Delegates.
The final version of the program, as adopted by the board, contains a few key points the county hopes will be taken up by legislators during upcoming sessions.
8News reached out to the legislators representing portions of Chesterfield for comment on the program, but only State Sen. Ghazala Hashmi responded to our request for comment before publication.
In addition, Del. Lee Ware’s office said any comment would be “somewhat premature” as legislators are still set to meet with the Board of Supervisors later this week.
One of the biggest priorities for the board was full funding of the state’s Standards of Quality (SoQ’s), guidelines to local school districts that set out requirements for accreditation. A frequent point of frustration have been so-called “unfunded mandates,” requirements schools must meet but are not provided with state funds to fulfill.
“When the law changes and there’s no money to follow it, that puts us in a tough spot,” said School Board Chair Ryan Harter.
Senator Hashmi said she fully supported that policy, and would pursue it during the upcoming budget session, “I support full funding for the SoQs. I think you will be seeing several bills as well as budget bills to support the SoQs.”
She also expressed support for another county priority, reducing the use of Standards of Learning (SOL) assessments to the absolute minimum required by federal law.
In that, she may find common ground with her colleagues across the aisle. Although, Del. Carrie Coyner a former member of the Chesterfield School Board herself, did not respond to a request for comment, she has supported a reduction in SOL requirements before, championing the growth-based assessments preferred by Chesterfield board members.
“Every year we track pretty closely about 300 pieces of legislation,” said Shawn Smith, Chief Communications Officer for Chesterfield.
The next General Assembly will convene on Jan. 12, 2022.