I attended public elementary through high school in Virginia Beach and my own daughters attend Virginia Beach public schools. I know firsthand the importance of public education is in our communities and the impact of my numerous extraordinary public school teachers still resonates with me today. They are the reason that our educators are some of our greatest public servants.
While in Richmond, I supported a budget to increase funding for Virginia Beach public schools by over $45 million, keeping a campaign promise of fighting for increased funding for our local schools.
I'm proud to support funding in Richmond for pay raises for our hard working teachers, and sending $157 million of lottery funds back to local school divisions without any mandates on how the funds must be spent for maximum flexibility. Furthermore, this year's adopted budget exceeded the Governor's investment in K-12 education by $8 million.
Education is the key to the future wellbeing of the children of Hampton Roads and investing in education is really about investing in the future workforce that will power our 21st century economy. Like you, I want my own children to be able to graduate from our local public schools with a world class education.
Not all children in the Commonwealth today are as fortunate as I was growing up in Virginia Beach public schools. That is why I'm proud to have championed legislation aimed at those trapped in failing school districts that was passed with bipartisan support and signed into law by the Governor. My legislation allowed public charter school applications in at-risk school districts. Virginia Beach public schools are some of the best in the nation, but some Virginia school districts are falling farther behind in individual student growth. This legislation would only apply to those localities in which over 50% of the schools in the school district are classified by the federal government as Title I at risk schools. In these school districts, a charter school applicant can request that the State Board of Education review and remand to the local school board a denied application. This legislation does not remove the local school board's ultimate authority to grant or deny any charter school application. I'm proud to say this legislation was passed and signed into law with bipartisan support.