Students, teachers fight for more school funding as the General Assembly begins
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - People who passed under the Bryan Park Interchange at I-95 Wednesday noticed a serious message taking over the bridge. Education advocates lit up signs to encourage lawmakers to pour out more money for Virginia schools. It comes as some Richmond students say their schools could surely use it. It happened on the first day of the General Assembly. Students and teachers are working to get the attention of those who can do something about it.
People driving on I-95 honk their horns in support of what they see. The message 'fund our schools' was brought to light by the group Virginia Educators United.
"We want to get people’s attention. We want fully funded schools in Virginia,” a representative said while braving the cold.
They’re not the only ones concerned.
“We hope the legislature will improve teacher and staff salary increases to bring them up to the national average as soon as possible,” a Richmond high school student said during a news conference Wednesday.
"We were getting tired of feeling like we’re not getting the best of what we need,” student Corey Stuckey added.
The 11th grader plays sports for George Wythe High so he often travels to schools outside of Richmond.
"When our football team played Henrico, in Highland Springs, they had such a beautiful, paved field and when you go to George Wythe, we don’t use our field other than to practice because our field is old. We don’t have any bleachers. We barely have enough paint on our floor to even see where the lines are at,” he said.
Add those frustrations to the day to day experience for some other students.
"The mold on the walls, paint on the walls peeling, the furniture once again. It’s just not a condition where I can learn to the best of my ability,” Thomas Jefferson High student Alexis Gresham said.
Then there are the cold days. "The buildings are very cold in the wintertime. I have to wear a big coat to school and gloves on my hands just to get my education and it’s ridiculous,” she continued.
That's why they're brave enough to speak out.
NBC 12 asked the high schoolers if they think lawmakers will listen.
"I hope they do because coming from teenagers that should really be an eye-opener to them that we really care about our education and the children that are coming behind us,” Gresham responded.
Governor Northam is proposing a $1.2 billion education plan, calling it one of the largest new investments in education ever. It includes a 3% salary increase for teachers over two years.
Education advocates are concerned much of it will be absorbed by a growing number of students and inflation.
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