Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has unveiled his 2012 legislative and budget plan that focuses on raising teacher standards and quality, reducing mandates on local school divisions, expanding educational options and funding for critical education and training programs in supporting his administration's ongoing "Opportunity to Learn" K-12 education agenda.
The proposals, to be introduced in the 2012 General Assembly session, will also include $438 million in new, additional K-12 funding over the next biennium, writes the Augusta Free Press.
In a statement, McDonnell said:
"Today, we are gathered again to announce our 2012 initiatives that will further reinforce this commitment to improving K-12 education, adding rigor to school curricula, strengthening our teacher workforce and repealing the calendar requirement to give localities the ability to choose when to start school."
Secretary of Education Laura Fornash says that by streamlining bureaucracy and enhancing the skills for teachers, "Virginia can continue to build upon our long history of a world-class education system and ensure that our students are well-trained for the skills and information they need to be successful in the workforce".
On the repeal of the law requiring schools to schedule their first day of school after Labor Day, Dr. Pam Moran, Superintendent of Albemarle Co. Schools and President of the Virginia Association of School Superintendents (VASS), said:
"VASS is pleased to see certain areas of governor McDonnell's legislative package align with the Superintendents' Blueprint for the Future of Public Education in Virginia. Superintendents support flexible instructional time. The governor's proposal for pre-Labor Day school start times is a great first step."
Joan Wodiska, President of the Virginia School Boards Association said:
"Virginia students no longer compete against students from Maryland or North Carolina, our students, our workers, our businesses, compete in a global economy. In this high stakes game, we cannot afford to lose.
"Every student, regardless of race, gender, language, income, disability or zip code needs and deserves a world-class public education. For many, many, many years, the Virginia School Boards Association's top legislative priority has been to abolish the Labor Day Law."
Delegate Kirk Cox added:
"Last year, we made significant reforms to and investments in our colleges and universities to increase access to higher education at an affordable cost to Virginia families.
"This year, Governor McDonnell has proposed bold ideas that will focus on raising standards and reducing mandates on localities so they have the ability to improve educational opportunities for our children."