Laws Will Provide More Funding for School Construction and Modernization and Ensure That Every Elementary School Has a Full-Time Principal
RICHMOND, VA – On Friday, the Virginia General Assembly passed three major bipartisan school funding bills patroned by Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond). The three bills advanced during the 2022 session and special session, and were recently resolved in conference committees. The bills are:
SB 473, creates a School Construction Fund and Program to provide grants to school boards to finance school construction and modernization. Delegate Israel O’Quinn (R-Washington) patroned a House version. The budget includes $450 million for the School Construction Fund to distribute grants to localities for school construction and modernization needs. SB 473 was a recommendation of the bipartisan bipartisan Commission on School Construction and Modernization, which McClellan chairs. The Commission was created by legislation McClellan carried in 2020.
SB 471, adopts changes to the state Literary Fund to make more money available to local school divisions through loans with lower interest rates than currently allowed by law. The budget also provides $400 million for the Literary Fund. This bill was also a recommendation on the Commission on School Construction and Modernization.
SB 490 revised the Standards of Quality for school principals to ensure that every elementary school in Virginia has a full-time principal, increasing the state share of funding for these positions. This was one of the changes to the Standards of Quality recommended by the Virginia Board of Education. Previously, schools with fewer than 300 students were only required to have a half-time principal. Sen. McClellan’s original SB 490 would have implemented the full recommended Standards of Quality, increasing state funding to local school divisions by $461.9 million over the biennium.
“These bipartisan bills are a major victory for Virginia’s K-12 public schools,” Sen. McClellan said. “Every elementary school in Virginia should have a principal on site, every day – and our bill will make that a reality. The new School Construction Fund and enhanced Literary Fund loans will lay the groundwork to fix Virginia’s crumbling school infrastructure. I’m honored to have worked with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make these crucial investments in our public schools.”
In December 2021, the Commission on School Construction and Modernization recommended several measures to address Virginia’s long overlooked school construction, renovation, and maintenance needs. Legislative commission members are: Sen. McClellan, Sen. Bill Stanley (R-Franklin) Sen. Jeremy McPike (D-Prince William), Del. Jeff Bourne (D-Richmond), Del. Shelly Simonds (D-Newport News), and Del. Dave LaRock (R-Loudoun). The General Assembly also passed Sen. McPike’s SB 238 recommended by the Commission. SB 238 requires the Department of Education, working with the Department of General Services, to develop and maintain a data collection tool to assist each school board to determine the relative age of its public school buildings and the amount of maintenance reserve funds that are necessary to restore each building.