State budget allocates funds for teacher salaries and projects
ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- The budget passed by the divided General Assembly on Thursday is now on its way to Governor Glenn Youngkin's desk.
Virginia lawmakers approved a state budget that would allocate $100 million toward teacher salaries, school construction and modernization projects across the state.
According to documents from the Appropriations Committee, it marks the largest ever K-12 education budget, spending more than $19.2 billion.
That’s a 20 percent increase from the previous budget cycle.
Part of the bipartisan budget would grant teachers and other public employees a five percent pay increase.
"It shows how much we do value our teachers," said Albemarle County Public Schools Spokesperson Helen Dunn.
The average starting salary for Albemarle County teachers is $50,000. Charlottesville City Schools teachers start around $52,000.
Dunn says the division approved a six percent pay increase going into the fall and the division will fund employee raises with state funds instead of the school budget.
"When those come out of the local pot, it's a stressor on the local taxpayer dollars, it's stress on the county, and the county's ability to fund other projects like our capital projects," she said.
The two-year state budget would also provide funding for reconstruction and modernization of schools across the state.
Capital projects include the reconstruction of Mountain View Elementary School.
Principal Cindy Wells says adding six new classrooms will cost the division more than $8.5 million.
She says students currently learn inside temporary classrooms due to overcrowding.
"Of course having nice, cozy classrooms, comfortable classrooms for our students is important as well," said Wells. "If you're comfortable in your learning environment, then you're going to do better as a student."
Dr. Royal Gurley, the CCS superintendent, also weighed in on the state budget Thursday.
"We are so excited about the budget,” he said.
Gurley says the division has not decided where state funding will be used yet, but Buford Middle School's $75 million reconfiguration plan is a possibility.
"Right now, if you look, the school has not been touched. It's in its original form. It does not lend itself to be an innovative learning space," he said.
Youngkin will receive this budget within the next few days. He will have one week to review it and make his own recommendations.
Click here for more information about Buford's reconfiguration plan.
Click here for Albemarle County Public School's Capital Improvement Program.