CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The Chesterfield County School Board renewed its call for adequate education funding from the state in a legislative program adopted on Tuesday, Dec. 13.
In the program, the school division once again took aim at so-called “unfunded mandates,” or requirements that are imposed by the state or federal government on local governments without the funding that would ensure these requirements are implemented.
“The Chesterfield County School Board supports full funding of state education programs including basic aid, prevailing instructional support staffing levels and categorical funding,” the legislative program reads.
It’s a call the school board has made time and again, incorporating it into their legislative agenda and lobbying for increased educational spending at the General Assembly.
“A lot of legislation comes through the system, we would appreciate if funding came with it,” Superintendent Dr. Merv Daugherty said during last year’s meeting to go over the county’s legislative program.
This year, the school board specifically requested that the state cover the entire 5% teacher pay raise mandated for the 2023-2024 school year — a mandate from the General Assembly that currently requires school divisions to match the state’s funding.
One example of an unfunded mandate from this year’s General Assembly session was a proposal from Governor Glenn Youngkin to require all schools to have a “school resource officer” — a law enforcement officer assigned to serve a specific school full-time.
Chesterfield’s program also calls on the state to re-evaluate the formula it uses to set funding for local school divisions, which has been criticized for placing a larger burden on localities than most states do. That can lead to worse inequalities, as local funding for school divisions comes primarily from property taxes.
“The Chesterfield County School Board supports an analysis of the true cost of education in the Commonwealth, an accurate assessment of the costs to implement the Standards of Quality and the efficiency and effectiveness of the Composite Index of Local Ability to Pay,” the program reads.
Chesterfield, like most school divisions across the commonwealth, will be watching closely as the General Assembly convenes for its session this January.