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Mar 29

Please Contact Your Legislator Now!

 To:  All VASSP Members

 Dr. Randy Barrack has asked for region directors to contact administrators across the Commonwealth to ask you to contact your Virginia legislators today in regard to Governor McDonnell’s support for Budget Amendment 12 and SB 13245 (http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?ses=131&typ=bil&val=sb13245&submit=GO).  Please let them know that you are in opposition to this legislation if it returns on April 3 for the “veto” session.  A letter (listed below) has been composed and is being sent by several educational associations. You may extract information from this document and add your own thoughts. Please attend to this as soon as possible.

The following organizations acknowledge the necessity of turning-around Virginia’s underperforming schools so that all students have access to a high-quality public education, and we pledge to work with legislators to this end: Virginia Association of Counties, Virginia Municipal League, Virginia School Boards Association, Virginia Association of School Superintendents, Virginia Association of Secondary School Principals, Virginia Association of Elementary School Principals, Virginia PTA, Virginia First Cities, and Virginia Education Association.

Schools that persistently fail to achieve state academic benchmarks must change course. That course, however, needs to be a proven path to success in the classroom. The substitute for SB 1324 and Budget Amendment 12 are not evidenced-based, pad the state education bureaucracy and leave far too many details unanswered.

Moreover, the criteria for determining which schools will be taken over by the state’s Opportunity Educational Institution are inconsistent with the adopted Budget Conference Report.

The Conference Report provides that “Any school that has been denied accreditation for the previous two school years shall be transferred to the Opportunity Educational Institution.”

SB 1324S provides that “ The local school board shall transfer to the Board the supervision and operation of any school upon being denied accreditation. A local school board may request to transfer to the Board the supervision and operation of any school that has been accredited with warning for three consecutive years.”

Budget Amendment 12 provides that “Any school that has been accredited with warning for three consecutive years shall be transferred to the Opportunity Educational Institution.” The Conference Report limits the scope of the OEI program to those schools that have consistently underperformed. The language broadening OEI’s scope should be rejected in both SB1324S and Budget Amendment 12.

Fortunately, the Conference Report calls for a thorough study by JLARC on options for restructuring low performing schools. We believe this study should precede the provision of the additional funding called for in Budget Amendment 12.

Our concerns regarding the constitutionality of the OEI approach are only heightened by the provisions of the Governor’s substitute bill. The program in Louisiana, upon which the OEI proposal is based, has not been successful, even with the help of significant Federal funding that will not be available in Virginia. We also remain concerned by the total lack of accountability measures for OEI schools.

These are just some of the reasons to reject the proposed substitute for SB 1324 and Budget Amendment 12. We urge you to do so.