Legislators and Local Leaders Highlight the Opportunity to Invest in Public Schools During Henrico Press Conference on State Budget

Freedom Virginia Continues 5-Stop ‘Show Me Your Values’ Mobile Billboard Tour in Henrico County

View Footage of the Press Conference Here

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. —  Delegate Schuyler VanValkenburg (D-Henrico), Delegate Rodney Willett (D-Henrico) and Chair of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus Senator Lamont Bagby (D-Henrico) today came together in Henrico County to call on Governor Glenn Youngkin and budget negotiators to prioritize Virginia children and their education, not corporations and the wealthiest Virginians.

The legislators were joined by Henrico County School Board Vice President Alicia Atkins, School Board Member Roscoe Cooper and local activists in continuation of Freedom Virginia’s 5-stop “Show Me Your Values” mobile billboard tour. Together they called for passage of the Virginia Senate’s proposed budget, which makes ahistoric investment in schools and communities; rather than the House’s proposed budget, which gives tax handouts to big corporations and the wealthiest Virginians that cost billions of dollars, taking even more money from our schools.

The leaders highlighted a new report by The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis that shows the potential impact of budget decisions on schools in Henrico County and Greater Richmond. The report shows that under the Senate budget proposal, Henrico County would receive $27.2 million more in school funding, enabling schools to hire 489 new support staff, such as counselors, social workers and nurses. Richmond City schools would receive $18.2 million more, funding 259 support staff. Chesterfield County would receive $34.2 million more, adding 633 school support staff.

The House Republican budget isn’t just a one-time giveaway to corporations and the wealthiest among us. In the coming years, its cost would balloon, taking billions of dollars away from K-12 schools.

The tour continues Wednesday at 11 a.m. in Newport News. The final tour stop will be in Harrisonburg this Friday.

“Our budget proposal doesn’t benefit millionaires and billionaires,” said Chair of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus Senator Lamont Bagby (D-Henrico). “Our funding goes to those individuals that need the support. Our teachers, our police officers, that’s where our funding is going.”

“Corporations aren’t asking for this tax cut; they aren’t asking for it because they know that our public schools are what make Virginia so dynamic,” said Delegate Schuyler Valvalkenburg (D-Henrico), a high school teacher. “If you go look at why we were named the best state for business, our top score every time we received that ranking is public schools, K-12 and higher education. We have a great school system. We have great businesses, we have great workers and we have a great economy. We need to fund our kids because it’s doing right by them, but it’s also doing right by all of us.”

“What I’m hearing from parents is to give my kids the best educational opportunity possible,” said Delegate Rodney Willett (D-Henrico). “And to accomplish that, it absolutely is funding our schools and in particular our teachers.”

“Schools take care of so much more than reading, writing and arithmetic,” Henrico County School Board Vice President Alicia Atkins. “Students across the commonwealth deserve funding that unlocks their potential … This is a call to every policymaker to value the future. Your vote will show whether you want to enrich or deplete our schools.”

“Education is the foundation upon which our society is built. It empowers us and bridges social and economic gaps, and unlocks boundless boundless opportunities. For far too long, schools have been underfunded and been burdened by systematic inequalities that perpetuate disparities and educational outcomes,” said Henrico County School Board Member Roscoe Cooper. “Fully funded schools serve as equalizers, fully-funded schools address the imbalance and give every child an equal opportunity and chance for success. By closing the funding gap. we break down barriers, we create a level playing field and we empower our most vulnerable students to realize their full potential.”

“Ceiling tiles that are falling apart and mold on our ceilings are one of the reasons why we need this $1 billion investment,” said Vice President of the Richmond Education Association Darrell Turner. “It should never be a decision of whether we give an incentive to rich corporations or invest in the children in our great Commonwealth. When we invest in them, we are investing in the state and the state’s future. As an educator, I want everyone to know my working conditions are your children’s learning conditions.”

“Investment in K through 12 schools isn’t just a number,” said Henrico parent and teacher Madison Irving. “It means more counselors, mental health professionals and learning specialists to support my students and help them succeed … These children are future doctors, scientists, engineers, artists, writers, legislators, and even educators, and each one of them is an investment in our future.”

Brigid Godfrey

Brigid Godfrey

Communications Director

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