VASSP President Presents Testimony to State Board of Education

“It is becoming increasingly difficult for educators … to ensure student success and promote more rigor and higher expectations in the face of decreased funding, fewer support and professional staff and unfunded mandates that come with increased responsibilities.” So began President Keith’s remarks to State Board members who invited education association representatives to discuss the Standards of Quality and the Board’s Comprehensive Plan.

In further testimony, Dr. Perrigan told the Board that it was imperative that previous Board recommendations to increase the number of assistant principals in the SOQ be funded. President Keith emphasized that, “Currently, because of reductions in staff and low SOQ staffing requirements for AP’s, they are being split between schools, an ineffective and tedious practice.” In making its case to the General Assembly in past sessions, the State Board has noted that the demands and responsibilities of assistant principals have intensified based on a myriad of factors, including increased safety concerns, mandates attached to those concerns, the discrepancy between SOQ requirements and actual staffing practices in middle and high schools, as well as the increasing complexity of the principal’s role.

“It is essential that principals be allowed the time to be effective educational leaders in their schools, which makes it even more important that assistant principals deal with issues of safety, security, discipline and provide assistance with teacher evaluations/observations,” said President Keith. He went on to note that this would become increasingly important as the new evaluation criteria are instituted. The 2005 General Assembly passed the bills to amend the SOQ but failed to appropriate funding for AP’s and other staffing increases. Those staffing increases have yet to be funded.

A key VASSP recommendation called for increased opportunities for meaningful professional development backed by funding. VASSP testimony continued with a call for training and assistance in order for programs to be successful. President Keith reminded the Board that new evaluation criteria were about to be instituted and told Board members, “We believe that without intensive training through professional development opportunities for all educators that this major change, which VASSP supported and helped create, will not be successful.”

VASSP testimony concluded with an admonition that asking for flexibility and outlining priorities to politicians could result in revisions to the SOQ that would lead to decreased funding by the General Assembly.