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Prince William County School Board Unanimously Approves Resolution in Support of Gov. Northam’s Early Childhood Care and Education Package:

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From Prince William County School Board Chair Babur Lateef:
For Immediate Release

Last night the Prince William County School Board unanimously approved a resolution to fully support Governor Northam’s Early Childhood Care and Education package:

Be it resolved:

That the Prince William County School Board fully supports Proposed Senate Bill 578 and House Bill 1012 which are currently pending before the Virginia General Assembly and which would require the Virginia Board of Education to establish a statewide unified public/private system for early childhood care and education in the Commonwealth.  The School Board adopts these proposed bills as part of its 2020 legislative agenda and fully supports Governor Northam’s 94.8 million dollar Early Childhood Care and Education package which will have a direct and positive impact on the lives of Prince William County students, our School Division and other School Divisions throughout the Commonwealth. 

Why does this matter to Prince William County?

Our results from the statewide data of the Virginia Kindergarten Readiness Program (VKRP):

44% of Kindergartners arrived not ready.
57% of Kindergartners from economically-disadvantaged backgrounds arrived not ready.
62% of Kindergartners with disabilities arrived not ready. 

The Governor’s proposals will help Prince William County address these challenges.

I hope the General Assembly passes and implements the full proposal offered by Governor Northam on Early Childhood Care and Education.  This effort was built over two years with input from hundreds of stakeholders and 5,000 miles of travel from the First Lady to teachers and classrooms all over the Commonwealth.  Conservatively, this package will support 11,000 at-risk children over two years, and many of those children are right here in Prince William County.  This effort moves Virginia up from being in the bottom third of states in the nation to be closer to our neighboring states in per-pupil pre-k funding. This package strengthens and adds funding to an existing program.  It adds funding for slots, increases quality and teacher support across the board, and provides unified oversight for the first time in state history.

I urge all members of the General Assembly to support the Governor’s education budget.  It includes the single-largest increase for at-risk schools in Virginia history, raises teacher salaries 3 percent, funds more school counselors and new staff supports for English language learners, and makes significant new flexible funds available for local divisions. Governor Northam believes students deserve quality public schools, no matter where they live and that this budget provides extra funding to help close the achievement gap in high-need schools, especially in urban and rural Virginia. Every child should have access to a world-class education, and this budget advances that commitment.

Academic achievement gaps are persistent and growing in Virginia, for students of color, economically disadvantaged students, and students with disabilities. Forty percent of Virginia’s public pre-K-12 students are economically disadvantaged, and 13 percent are learning English, according to Fall 2019 reports on student demographics. Teacher recruitment and retention also remain pressing challenges for the state.

According to Secretary of Education Atif Qarni, “This historic budget reaffirms our clear and ongoing commitment to educational equity our public education system, and these bold changes will dramatically increase supports for educationally at-risk learners, help us recruit and retain the best teachers, and help school divisions serve the unique needs of their students.”

Governor’s Budget highlights include that will have a direct impact on Prince William County Schools

  • Flexible Supports for Educationally At-Risk Students: $140.4 million to increase the “At-Risk Add-On” for educationally at-risk students. This is the largest single increase to this funding source in Virginia’s history;
  • Teacher Raise: $145.1 million for a 3 percent salary increase in the second year, for funded Standards of Quality instructional and support positions;
  • Flexible Per-Pupil Allocation: $125 million in new flexible funds for local divisions;
  • Additional School Counselors: $99.3 million to increase the number of counselors at every grade level;
  • Instructional Support for English Language Learners: $27.6 million to increase the number of instructional positions;
  • School Meals: $10.6 million to help cover the cost of school breakfast and lunch for families who qualify for reduced meal pricing; and,
  • Rebenchmarking and Routine Updates: $808.5 million for formula-driven enrollment and program updates.

Governor Northam’s education budget is exactly what we need to move ALL of our schools forward.  His administration has not proposed this package lightly.  This effort comes from listening to our teachers, administrators, School Boards, and stakeholders around the Commonwealth. Virginia voters in this past election placed education at the top of their priority list.  Candidates promoting new investments education won across the Commonwealth.  Virginians understand that a strong education system is responsible for attracting top tier companies like Amazon and Micron and they want a strong commitment to continually improve our schools.  Please urge your representative to support our schools by fully embracing the Governor’s Education Budget.

Babur Lateef, MD
Chairman At Large 
Prince William County School Board