With the BOCS sniffing around for money, it might be important to consider the letter Robley Jones, legislative Laison for VEA (Virginia Education Association) sent out this morning regarding the Education Jobs Fund:
(and it did say Dear Moon-howler:)
The manner in which the health of the state budget is presented can be most confusing. Trumpets ring as we declare a surplus; but the fact is that for the first time in 50 years, General Fund revenues have declined for two years in a row. The surplus just means that revenues exceeded projections, and a loss was projected.
You will also hear glowing words about the additional $18 million in funding for our schools from sales tax revenues. Sounds good, but sales tax revenues supplant required state and local spending. This $18 million does not add an additional penny for our schools.
But, enough ranting — I have two important things to call your attention to.
First, thanks to an incredible lobby effort by NEA. An effort that many of us participated in, $249.5 million from the Education Jobs Fund is heading our way. By the way — Senators Warner and Webb and Representatives Boucher, Connolly, Moran, Nye, Perriello and Scott voted in favor of this appropriation. Representatives Cantor, Forbes, Goodlatte, Wittman and Wolf voted against the Education Jobs Fund.
This morning the Secretary of Finance, Richard D. Brown, explained to the money committees of the General Assembly how this money can be used:
“School districts must use these funds to pay the salaries and benefits of teachers, school administrators, and other essential staff.
— The funds can be used to recall or rehire former employees, retain existing employees, and hire new
employees to ensure that students receive vital education and related services.
— These funds may not be used for general administrative expenses, overhead, or other support services by school districts.”
Please be vigilant in watching how your local school board and board of supervisors or city council use these funds.
Second, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction will be sending a memo to your superintendent that reads, in part as follows:
“If temporary furloughs are imposed, the school division should not adjust the required contributions to the Virginia Retirement System (including group insurance contributions). Employees’ service credit and salary information reported to the Virginia Retirement System may not be adjusted for the unpaid furlough time. This will ensure that an employee’s average creditable compensation for retirement and life insurance benefits will not be adversely affected and insures that VRS receives the requisite contributions to fund these benefits.”
We have worked with the administration to try to ensure that if you were to be furloughed that it would not reduce your ultimate retirement benefit. If your board furloughs employees, please watch to see that the Superintendent’s advice is honored.
As you know VEA opposes both furloughs and salary reductions.Thank you,Robley Jones
Generally speaking, we have a very consciencious school board here in Prince William County. However, as elections draw closer (November, 2011) there is a tendency amongst mere mortals to please the voters a little more. While the BOCS can’t touch the funds directly, they do have some control over what they allocate to the school board. (well you just got X so we can subtract that off your total kind of mentality)
Just another example of VEA standing up for education. Thanks Mr. Jones.
The more rural school districts have been hit extremely hard by the recession. Prince William has been hit hard. Unfortunately, I fear bad blood if PW teachers and staff get another raise while regular county employees go a third year without raises. (If they don’t work for a supervisor.)