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VA Teachers to Urge More Funding After Years of Budget Cuts

Virginia educators are back again in Richmond today for a second annual rally for more school funding. (VEA)
Virginia educators are back again in Richmond today for a second annual rally for more school funding. (VEA)
January 27, 2020

RICHMOND, Va. -- Thousands of teachers across Virginia are fighting for more spending on education at a rally today in Richmond.

Gov. Ralph Northam has proposed a budget that would slightly increase K-12 spending. But after giving teachers a 5% salary increase last year, the new budget gives them no increase next school year, according to Richmond middle-school English teacher Katina Harris.

She said many teachers are in a desperate situation because wages haven't kept up with the cost of living.

"The teachers cannot afford to live in Richmond, Virginia," Harris said. "I know some of them are living in their cars; they're homeless. They can't eat lunch. They have to work a second job to make a living."

A spokesperson for Northam pointed out that almost 40% of all new spending in the governor's budget goes toward education - more than any other issue area.

The Fund Our Future rally will begin at the Capitol building in Richmond at noon.

Virginia is the 12th wealthiest state in the nation, but ranks 32nd on the list of average teacher salary, according to the Virginia Education Association. Harris said the state still has not closed the budget gap created during the Great Recession.

She said schools need more counselors and supplies. Also, students don't have enough textbooks and buildings are crumbling.

"When it rains outside, it leaks through the roof of the school building and then it comes inside my classroom, inside the tiles and the ceiling," she said.

Direct aid for students in Virginia's public schools fell by almost 10% from 2009-2020, according to the Commonwealth Institute.

Diane Bernard, Public News Service - VA