Concern over public school budgets

By Melissa Correa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – The performance pay incentive grabbed the attention of school superintendents from across Virginia, not all of whom support the idea. Meeting today in Richmond, many said money needs to go to all teachers who are performing well, while working with fewer resources.

That news from the state capitol didn't go over well with superintendents this morning. A majority of public school systems had to lay off teachers, freeze or cut their pay. They say enticing some teachers to work at "hard to staff" schools doesn't benefit education as a whole.

One school in Chesterfield- Davis Elementary- is on the state's "hard to staff" list, but rather than rewarding some teachers to do wonders there Superintendent Marcus Newsome, wants all of his staff to get paid for their hard work.

"Foremost is making sure that we compensate our great teachers and our great employees. And we're hoping that there will be a baseline of support before we can start thinking about incentives," said Newsome.

Chesterfield schools continue to top headlines because of its budget cuts. Last year- teachers were laid off and salaries were slashed.

"We are not asking the taxpayers to do more. We're simply asking that there be a look at the formulas to make sure that there's equity in K-12 funding," Newsome said.

Like Newsome, superintendents from across the commonwealth aren't asking for more money - they just want the state cuts to education to stop before it affects student success.

"We know that teachers need to give students individual attention. As class sizes go up, or if they continue to go up, students will not be served as well. And performance will eventually decline," said Phil Worrell, Virginia Association of School Superintendents.

During today's meeting at the state library superintendent's agreed the state also needs to help fund the Virginia Retirement System and allow public schools the same benefits of charter schools.

"Well K-12 is the foundation for education in America. More than 90% of our citizens graduated from public schools and so if our colleges are going to be strong and vibrant, then they need to have students who are prepared for the rigorous coursework," Newsome said.

Governor McDonnell says the performance pay incentive will attract good teachers to schools that face several challenges. Those teachers would also help students set and reach higher goals, like better grades.

Also today, the governor proposed a bill establishing a tax-credit program for corporations that donate cash to nonprofit groups that provide private-school scholarships to needy students. 

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