The Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce held its Virginia Beach State of the Schools & Partners in Education Luncheon on October 13 at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. Approximately 175 members of the business community heard from Dr. James Merrill, Superintendent of Virginia Beach Public Schools.
Dr. Merrill provided a closer look at the return on investment Virginia Beach City Public Schools is providing taxpayers. He discussed the school division’s strengths and challenges as well as included an overview of Compass to 2015, the strategic plan guiding change and improvement to the city’s public education services.
Virginia Beach is the third largest school division in the state. “We have it good in Virginia Beach,” Dr. Merrill said. The division is proud of its 85.4% graduation rate and SOL test scores. Currently, it has an operating budget of $639 million, which is $21 million less than last year. Merrill explained several steps the school division has taken to save this money and told the audience that next year's projected budget is approximately $624.9 million. It costs approximately $11,000 of federal, state and local money to educate each student in Virginia Beach, which is about $300 less than the state average.
In September, Dr. Merrill took part in “Education Nation,” a summit hosted by NBC News. He told the crowd that the countries of Finland, South Korea, and Singapore were discussed at the summit because of their ability to recruit, develop and retain top students to become teachers. Merrill explained that the U.S. needs to change to remain competitive and that 1.6 million teachers will be needed nationwide in the next five years.
Those in attendance were asked to volunteer in the schools, become a mentor, support the Education Foundation, and to be an advocate for children.
The Chamber thanks Presenting Sponsor Dominion Power and Media Sponsor Cox Communications.