The Virginia General Assembly’s 2016 session came to a close Friday with the passage of the state’s $100 billion biennial budget.
The adopted spending plan comes with big news for Dulles Airport: Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s proposed $50 million for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority over the next two years survived budget deliberations.
“Dulles Airport is one of Virginia’s premier economic assets, and this critical investment will make it even stronger,” McAuliffe stated. “This funding will help support 45,000 direct and indirect jobs related to the United [Air Lines] Hub at Dulles and encourage other carriers to provide enhanced air travel offerings.”
See other session highlights below.
The new budget includes about $900 million more in K-12 spending in the next two years than the previous biennial budget. Included in that figure is about a 2 percent raise for public school teachers.
Two bills that might have caused headaches for local schools were left in the House education committee. LeMunyon’s House Bill 250 would have allowed students who have been assigned to different schools by attendance zone boundary changes to finish out their time at their current school. Another, Del. Kathleen Murphy’s (D-34) HB 457, would have required every new elementary school to be built with room for full-day kindergarten, and required Loudoun’s School Board to develop a plan to phase in full-day kindergarten in three years.
Del. Dave LaRock’s (R-33) HB 259 would have prohibited the state Board of Education from replacing Standards of Learning with Common Core Standards without first getting approval from the General Assembly. The governor vetoed the bill, and the House of Delegates fell two votes short of overcoming the veto.
Two bills sponsored by Del. Thomas A. “Tag” Greason (R-32) to modify the Standards of Learning were successful. One, HB 831, requires that SOL exams include computer science and computational thinking, including computer coding. This comes while educators debate allowing coding as an alternative to foreign language requirements. Another, HB 381, requires the Board of Education to prescribe alternative SOL assessments for children with disabilities.
The General Assembly hit Loudoun hard this year with a bill that will limit agreements the county government makes with developers to keep up with growth.
The bill was penned by the Homebuilders Association of Virginia and passed by state legislators and signed by the governor over the objections of localities across the state. The Virginia Municipal League tried unsuccessfully to get a waiver process written into the bill.
Supervisors and staff from Loudoun spent time in Richmond trying to get exemptions written into the bill, and most of the Loudoun delegation of state delegates and senators voted against the bill outright or worked to get revisions written in.
Meanwhile, the county continues to discover ramifications of the bill, and several legislators have said they plan to continue working to weaken the bill’s impact next year.
Commendations for Schools
The General Assembly also approved a laundry list of accolades for Loudoun schools and students. These include resolutions recognizing the follow:
- The Stone Bridge High School boys’ cross country team, which won the Virginia High School League Group 5A state championship (Greason).
- The Stone Bridge High School girls’ volleyball team, which won the VHSL Group 5A volleyball championship, bringing home their first state title (Greason).
- The Riverside High School girls’ volleyball team, which won the VHSL Conference 28 championship in the team’s first season [Greason and Del. J. Randall Minchew (R-10)].
- The Briar Woods High School cheerleading team, which won the VHSL Group 5A state championship, its fifth state title (Greason).
- Loudoun County Public Schools, which won a 2016 Programs That Work award from the Virginia Mathematics and Science Coalition for the school system’s Science Research Institutes for teachers [Greason, LeMunyon, Minchew, Murphy, Del. John J. Bell (D-87) and Del. Jennifer B. Boysko (D-86)].
- Alexis Grandis, who created Hopeful Hats and donated 75 hats to Mobile Hope just before Christmas (Greason).
- Mill Run Elementary School, which opened an outdoor classroom in cooperation with the Piedmont Environmental Council (Greason).
- The Loudoun County Department of Fire, Rescue, and Emergency Management for its response to heavy snows in late January (Greason, Bell, Boysko, LaRock, Minchew and Murphy).
- Sara Christie, an Ashburn elementary school teacher who won a 2015 Virginia Lottery Super Teacher award. Christie was one of eight educators across the state to win the award, which comes with a $2,000 cash prize and a $2,000 classroom credit from The Supply Room Companies (Greason).
- The Riverside High School gymnastics team, which won the VHSL Conference 21 West championship (Greason).
- The Broad Run High School wrestling team, which won the VHSL Group 5A Conference 14 championship. Two of its team members, Brandon Steel and Jonathan Birchmeier, also placed first in their weight classes at the VHSL Group 5A state championships (Greason).
- The Briar Woods High School girls’ swim team, which was undefeated in the regular season won the VHSL Conference 14 championship (Greason).
- The Briar Woods High School boys’ swim team, which had an undefeated regular season and won the VHSL Conference 14 championship (Greason).
- The Stone Bridge High School hockey team, which had an undefeated season and won the 2016 Northern Virginia Scholastic Hockey League championship with a score of 6-0. (Greason)
- The Patrick Henry College moot court team, which won the American Collegiate Moot Court Association national championship, its ninth national title. [LaRock, Minchew, Sen. Richard H. Black (R-13) and Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel (R-27)].
- The Loudoun Valley High School boys’ cross country team, which won the VHSL Group 4A state championship (LaRock, Minchew, Black and Vogel).
- The Loudoun Valley High School golf team, which won the VHSL Group 4A state golf championship (LaRock, Minchew, Black and Vogel).
- Loudoun Valley High School student athlete Drew Hunter, who broke a 15-year one mile run record, was named the Gatorade National Boys’ Cross Country Runner of the Year, won the Foot Locker Cross Country National Championship, and broke the Virginia record for a 5K run (LaRock, Boysko, Minchew, Black, Favola and Vogel).
- Freedom High School, which will host its class prom as a charitable event, with all ticket sales and donations benefiting children living with pediatric cancer (Bell, Boysko, LaRock, Minchew, Favola and Wexton).
The General Assembly wrapped up its regular session work a day early. But the dust hasn’t quite yet settled—legislators will meet again on April 20 to finish up and act on bills vetoed by the governor.