Legislative Priorities and Statements of Support and Opposition

The 2023 legislative session will convene on January 11, 2023. Legislative issues have been reviewed and prepared so that the School Board and administration can communicate the critical needs of the school division. Priorities for the 2023 legislative session will be brought to the attention of the entire Prince William County delegation.

2023 Legislative Priorities

  1. Provide Additional In-Classroom Support for Teachers

    Virginia needs to increase funding for in-classroom instructional support positions and provide teachers with additional resources to meet the needs of students with challenging behavior needs. While the 2022 General Assembly removed certain support positions from the support cap, Virginia should look at removing all support positions from underneath the cap that provide direct services to students. These positions should include school psychologists and other positions that support the behavioral health needs of students, technology instruction, and support positions.
  2. SOQ and Accreditation Flexibility

    In order for schools to become accredited, they must meet certain standards and benchmarks. However, schools are also required to meet specific staffing ratios through the SOQ. These requirements do not always translate into better test scores, or college and career readiness. Virginia should set the standards allowing flexibility for school divisions to meet those standards based upon individual students’ needs. The General Assembly should not hamstring student achievement by controlling the inputs as well as the outputs.
  3. College and Career Readiness

    Schools that are meeting and/or exceeding state standards should be provided with even greater flexibility on various standards to allow students to further begin exploring career fields. Schools will still be required to meet certain accreditation requirements, but the focus should be on student achievement.
  4. Full Funding for the Standards of Quality (SOQ)

    Prince William County Public Schools urges the Virginia legislature to consider and provide for the actual cost of meeting SOQ requirements, not just the minimum assumed to be necessary by the state.

    Therefore, the Prince William County School Board supports legislation that would provide full funding for implementing the SOQ, including the cost of support personnel, and not divert public resources away from public education.
  5. Remove Attendance Requirements for Accreditation

    The Prince William County School Board supports legislation that removes attendance under 8VAC20-131-380 as a measurement of School Quality for Accreditation.

    Establishing absent students as a measure of accreditation as defined as “those who are enrolled in a given school who miss 10% or more of the school year, regardless of reason” unfairly discriminates against schools with high transient minority populations, at-risk students, and working students. This places an unfunded mandate on schools who must utilize resources for attendance compliance tracking.
  6. Teacher Salary Increases and Cost-Of-Competing Allocation (COCA)

    Recruiting and retaining highly qualified teachers is essential to meeting federal, state, and local academic benchmarks, and to serving student needs. To compete for the best and brightest educators, PWCS and other area school divisions need the Commonwealth of Virginia to increase funding for the state’s share of teacher salaries and benefits, as well as those for other support staff.

    Therefore, the Prince William County School Board supports legislation that would provide funding for annual teacher salary increases and reinstate full funding for COCA for Region IV school divisions for both teachers and support staff. Additionally, the Prince William County School Board opposes any legislation that would extend COCA participation to additional school divisions.
  7. Restore Education Funding to Pre-Economic Recession Levels

    Funding of public education is a shared responsibility. While state and local authorities work in partnership to ensure a quality education for students in the Commonwealth, past changes to Virginia’s funding for public education widened the gap between the true local-level cost of providing programs and services and the amount reimbursed by the state.
  8. Repeal or Modify Proffer Limitations

    Legislation passed in 2016 severely limited the ability of local governments to require cash proffers in exchange for approval of development applications that necessitate new infrastructure investments, including school construction and expansion. The restrictions put significant new tax burdens on existing residents, potentially leading to overcrowded classrooms by forcing hard-pressed school divisions to cut back on needed capital projects.

    Therefore, the Prince William County School Board supports legislation that would suspend or repeal current limitations or amend existing code to exempt localities in fastgrowing areas from the limitations on proffers essential to providing new schools and other development-driven needs.
  9. Modify Advanced Studies Diploma Requirements to Encourage More Rigorous Coursework

    Under current Virginia requirements, students seeking an Advanced Studies Diploma must earn credits from courses in “at least three different science disciplines from among: earth sciences, biology, chemistry, or physics, or completion of the sequence of science courses required for the International Baccalaureate Diploma. Forcing students to devote time to three separate disciplines penalizes those who seek to pursue the most advanced sequence of courses available (e.g., Pre-AP biology, Pre-AP chemistry, AP chemistry, and AP biology). Offering a second option will enable highly motivated students to take their study of science to the highest possible level by focusing on fewer areas.

    Therefore, the Prince William County School Board supports legislation that would permit either: the completion of courses in three scientific disciplines from among earth sciences, biology, chemistry, or physics; or, the completion of advanced sequences of courses in two of the disciplines.
  10. Computer Coding to Satisfy World Language Graduation Requirement

    Coding makes computers and technology work. It is becoming the second language of the 21st Century, and the key to the technological understanding students need for success in future careers. Studies suggest that by 2021 American companies will have 1.4 million job openings that require computer-science expertise, yet they will find only 400,000 U.S. college graduates to fill them. This industry problem presents an opportunity for Virginia students, if they get the freedom to learn coding as part of their preparation for higher education.

    Therefore, the Prince William County School Board supports legislation that would allow the successful completion of computer coding courses to satisfy standard units of credit in foreign/world language requirements to graduate with an advanced studies diploma.

School Board Statements of Support/Opposition

Organized By State Legislative K-12 Subject Areas

Conduct and Discipline

Oppose all bills that would mandate additional statewide disciplinary procedures that would inhibit school administrators in circumstances where immediate disciplinary intervention is required, or otherwise limit the discretion of administrators in disciplinary matters. Support and advocate for all bills that support school divisions when conducting required criminal fingerprint checks, requiring the state police to not only provide the location, arrest date, and municipality of the offense, but also additional information on the offense and any adjudication.

Finance/Purchasing/Food Service

Support and advocate for all bills that increase funding for part-day Governor’s Schools (The Governor’s School @ Innovation Park) in proportion to the funding provided to full-day Governor’s Schools and oppose any cuts to funding for part-day programs. Support additional funding to allow for increased enrollment in Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST) from participating non-FCPS school divisions and provide for a more equitable student selection process. Support bills that increase local capacity to establish creative Governor’s School options for students.

Support and advocate for all bills that would prohibit the use of lottery funds to supplant general funding for Virginia school divisions and restore the application of all lottery funds to K-12 education.

Oppose all bills that usurp the authority of local school boards to properly allocate funding between instructional and support expenditures.

Oppose all bills that would establish uniform minimum standards for the erection of new, or renovation of existing, school buildings.

Oppose all bills that would require funding to “follow the student” in situations in which the home school division offers a complete virtual school program but the student elects to enroll in one offered by another school division or in laboratory schools.

Support all bills that eliminate the local school division budgetary match currently required to receive Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI) funding, allowing school divisions to expand preschool opportunities without negatively impacting funding for other programs and services.

Support and advocate for all bills that provide increased and targeted funding for educational technology infrastructure and increased bandwidth.

Oppose all bills that are unfunded mandates.

Instruction and Standards of Learning

Support and advocate for all bills directing the state to define comparable verified units for graduation purposes for students transferring to Virginia school divisions from other states.

Support and advocate for all bills that provide increased and targeted funding for the necessary resources and expertise to provide professional development and support collaboration so that all school division employees (teachers, support staff, and administrators) are better able to support classroom instruction and student learning.

Support and advocate for all bills to define “in-person” as to encompass “synchronous remote education with attendance accountability” for the parent/student driver education component of driver education as defined in SB 78 and Virginia Code 22.1-205 section 2. Families are seeking flexibility to improve equitable access to meet the requirement.

Instructional Technology

Support and advocate for all bills to establish a dedicated funding stream sufficient to provide continued, annual funding to Prince William County Public Schools to coordinate the statewide implementation of VA STAR. Since its inception in Prince William County’s Forest Park High School, this highly successful program has been expanded through the leadership of Prince William County Public Schools and our SPARK Education Foundation to a state initiative benefitting divisions across the Commonwealth. VA STAR trains students in vital technology skills (allowing many to earn valuable industry certifications), as they repair and refurbish donated computers and equipment to provide free-of-charge to students, families, schools, and other organizations in need of technology.

Support legislation that would require the Commonwealth to provide funding for every household in the Commonwealth to have access to fixed broadband or wireless broadband connection service with unlimited data allowances and speeds of at least 10 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload.

Personnel

Support legislation that would address the teacher shortage through passage of the Interstate Teacher Mobility Compact as well as any other measures that address the critical shortage in the Commonwealth’s educator workforce.

School Board Governance

Oppose all bills that would divest (limit) local school boards of their authority over the formation and operation of charter and laboratory schools within their school divisions.

Oppose any legislation that would place authority over collective bargaining issues relating to school board employees with any governing body other than the local school board.

Oppose any legislation or executive branch action that would empower any agency or department of the Commonwealth to alter any school division boundaries within the Commonwealth without the consent of the local school boards of all impacted school divisions.

School Construction, Renovation, and Modernization

Support legislation that would provide state funding for, and otherwise contribute to, school divisions’ efforts to conserve energy and natural resources through the expansion of renewable energy, and energy efficiency incentives and
opportunities.

November 29, 2022, Legislative Breakfast

School Board hosted the annual Legislative Breakfast on November 29 to bring together the School Board, division leadership, and our legislative delegation to discuss our shared interest in quality education.

September 21, 2022, School Board Meeting

The 2023 Legislative Priorities were approved at the September 21 School Board meeting. The 2023 legislative session will convene on January 11, 2023.

September 7, 2022, School Board Meeting

Prince William County Public Schools administrative leadership presented its 2023 legislative priorities recommendations to the School Board during the September 7 meeting.