McAuliffe talks education at Chesterfield County roundtable

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — On Monday the governor held the first roundtable with teachers at Bellwood Elementary School in Chesterfield County, to talk about Virginia’s needs in education.

“My chief initiative when I announce my budget in December will be K-12 education,” said Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

McAuliffe says he wants Virginia’s educational system to be the best in the country, admitting education has taken a big hit in the Commonwealth in the past few years.

“We’ve eliminated about 5,000 k-12 positions since 2008,” he said.

Kicking off one of several roundtables with teachers, to find out where taxpayers will get the biggest bang for their buck with an increased investment in education. Smaller class sizes, year long school, and SOL reform were some of the ideas kicked around, along with teacher salaries.

“We have students who are going to start the first day with substitute teachers,” said Donald Wilms with the Chesterfield Education Association.

Wilms says it’s getting harder to attract teachers.

“If you take the average teacher salary in Virginia and compare it to the average salary in Virginia, we rank dead last, 50 out of 50 in the country,” said Wilms.

Wilms says it goes beyond education, and it will make it harder to attract companies and new jobs to the state too.

“The realtors tell us all the time is the number one thing when people are moving into there is what are the schools like,” said Wilms.

The governor says that hundreds of thousands of jobs will open up in the future and Virginia’s students will have to prepared to fill them

“That will be our focus, making sure we’re building that pipeline for the new Virginia economy,” said McAuliffe.

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