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.)

2 Thoughts to “VEA’s Robley Jones Update: 2 Good Reasons to Watch Your School Board’s Deliberations”

  1. Need to Know

    The Education Jobs Fund legislation also ended the Cobra subsidy that is the only way many unemployed people are getting health care coverage now. I know people who are benefitting from this program. Many will lose health care coverage because they will not be able to afford Cobra from their former employer without the subsidy, or buying coverage on their own. It has made a big difference for many people.

    Raises for teachers or continuing health care for unemployed families? I agree completely that teachers deserve better compensation than they currently receive. However, in the current economic climate I think the Cobra subsidy is more important.

    We discussed unemployment insurance just this week. Unemployment insurance and Cobra subsidies are exactly the kind of safety net we need. Revisiting the health care debate, I opposed much of President Obama’s plan. His goal of ensuring health care for everyone could have been achieved without the dramatic increase in government we’re getting.

    Estimates of the number of people who have no health care insurance varied greatly. However, if you take out illegal aliens, people who are already eligible for Medicaid or other programs but need counseling in how to register, people who can afford but chose not to buy coverage, and people temporarily without health insurance because of unemployment, virtually everyone is covered.

    I do not think taxpayers should provide health care coverage for illegal aliens beyond emergency treatment. Counseling for those unaware of their eligibility for existing programs would solve that problem. Medical expenses incurred by those who chose not to buy health insurance can be recouped by garnishment of their future wages.

    Cobra subsidies, along with unemployment insurance, take care of the needs of most unemployed people. What are they going to do now? Some might argue that the Education Jobs Fund is a payoff from President Obama to teachers unions at the expense of health care for all.

  2. It should not have ended the COBRA subsidy. Absurd. That was a good safety net.

    I know lots of people who don’t have health coverage for one reason or another. Most of the people I know don’t have it because they can’t afford it. It is horribly expensive.

    I am luke warm about the health care bill that passed. However, something was needed to make insurance available to all Americans. There are a huge amount of hard working Americans who don’t have coverage through their jobs. There are many people who do not qualify for medicaid.

    I disagree with garnishment for medical expenses. Before the housing crisis, medical expenses were one of the major reasons for bankruptcy. A prolonged illness can rack up a million dollars in expenses fairly quickly. How does the average worked ever pay that off.

    Years ago I worked at the University of Virginia hospital in their business office. My job was a weekend job and my responsibilities bascially entailed writing up payments. The judgements were on the green cards. Some people paid $5 a week. They had been paying for 15-20 years and they still had huge balances…or huge for that day and age. This is not a new thing. There were also attached notes that read: “Take this you skunk. it should not cost this much to live.” Some people mailed in the judgements, others came in in person.

    It is not all that easy to qualify for govt programs. I guess maybe I have known more down and out people than the average bear, but there truly are people out there in need. They just don’t talk about it to people. My husband was on unemployment insurance several years ago. It didn’t even come close to making up for his lost wages. I paid the health care insurance out of pocket. ker ching ker ching.

    I will agree with NTK that COBRA subsidies should not have been lost. However, I strongly disagree that unemployment and Cobra subsidy really make people ok. They aren’t.

    As for the Ed. Jobs Fund….I don’t know how serious the problems are in other communities. My objective is to see that the money is used for what it was intended for and isn’t diverted into some other use.

    I am now going to sing my old song again…Virginia doesn’t have teachers unions and I doubt that you will find them most places in the south. They have Education Associations.
    As for Obama catering to teacher’s unions elsewhere….that would be some argument. He is already in the dog house with them.

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