Dear Member of the Community:
This petition is directed to the City Council of Virginia Beach and the General Assembly of Virginia to prioritize and appropriate the necessary funding towards ensuring the quality of education that currently exists in the city of Virginia Beach. On February 7th, Superintendent Dr. James Merrill announced that the Virginia Beach City Public Schools will experience a 40 million dollar budget shortfall for the 2012-2013 fiscal year. The operating budget of the Virginia Beach Public Schools is incumbent on money appropriated by the City Council of Virginia Beach and the state.
The economic climate has forced municipalities nationwide to make some difficult choices. However, in recent years, the City Council of Virginia Beach has consistently taken away from funds that could have been used towards education. Capital investment projects such as the construction of a new animal shelter and the funding for a new recreation center were prioritized over our schools. Council also has done away with a revenue sharing formula that has significantly reduced the operating budget for the school system.
Superintendent Merrill also pointed out in his letter to the school board that the city council used 23.8 million dollars earmarked for the schools to fund other projects and provide raises for city employees not associated with the school system.
Ultimately, over the past three years, the city council has taken back $41 million dollars that was originally budgeted for education. These actions by the Virginia Beach City Council show a disregard for the fundamental principle of providing for the educational system of the city. Truth lies in the action, and by these examples, it seems apparent that a quality education has not been a priority for the city council.
There is no doubt that these are tough economic times. Despite the lack of funding on a national and state level, the Virginia Beach Public Schools has diligently followed a strict self-imposed budget. Within the past few years, VB Schools has aggressively cut spending in anticipation of budgetary shortfalls. Through these measures, it was able to shield itself from budgetary shortages and maintain a level of excellence for a school district its size. It is apparent that VB Schools has been proactive in its efforts to preserve the quality of our schools.
It is time for the City Council of Virginia Beach to be held accountable. It is time for the city council to make amends for wagering the learning experience of our children. The time is now for the city council and state lawmakers to make education, once again, a priority. Teachers and staff are dedicated to the students and students are eager to learn. Our elected officials would agree with that statement. Unfortunately, their choices reflect differently.
Please sign this petition. Let’s make clear to the City Council of Virginia Beach and the General Assembly of Virginia that the citizens of Virginia Beach strongly encourage they find the necessary funding to ensure the continued excellence of the city’s school system.
Let’s all stand together on this one; the future of our city depends on it.