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Teachers Fear Education Cuts Will Do Lasting Damage

January 22, 2009

Richmond – Virginia educators say proposed cuts to education have no expiration date and thus will lower standards for years to come. Both Democrats and Republicans in the General Assembly say that the state may soon have a more-than $3-billion deficit over the next two years.

Kitty Boitnott, president of the Virginia Education Association, concedes that education cuts are a certainty, but says those cuts need to have an expiration date.

"When we get back to firm economic grounding, we can start to move forward again and get Virginia's rankings up to where we know they should be."

Even before the current state budget is settled, local school boards across the Commonwealth plan to lay off teachers and cut extracurricular programs. Districts face reductions above and beyond state funding cuts, says Boitnott.

"They are also having their own dilemmas on the local level with personal property taxes; people aren't buying cars like they were. Home sales are down and foreclosures are up, and so there are a tremendous number of challenges."

Boitnott expects teacher layoffs and larger class sizes.

Virginia is currently 37th in the nation on state funding per student, yet the state is ninth-wealthiest per-capita. In testimony this week before the General Assembly, Boitnott presented the signatures of 12,000 Virginians urging temporary cuts. She also suggests searching for alternative revenues and dipping into the state's rainy day fund. Lawmakers expect to cut $600 million from K-through-12 education in this year's budget.

There's more information at the Virginia Education Association Web site, at
www.veanea.org

Aries Keck, Public News Service - VA