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House and Senate working to iron out differences in education budgets

Lawmakers are trying to balance the books for the coming year. One part of the budget is a top priority for both parties: education.

The Senate wants to give teachers a 5% raise plus a $1,000 bonus while the House wants to give teachers a 4% raise plus a 1% bonus.

Senate Finance Chairwoman Janet Howell says she'll continue to fight for more money for teachers and state workers.

"Inflation is going higher than what the House wants to do," Howell says. "And I think we owe it to our state employees as well as our teachers that they not be damaged in this process."

The Republican-led House of Delegates is also considering a proposal to create a fund to help repair crumbing school buildings. That's usually something local governments handle. But House Education Chairman Glenn Davis says students and teachers can't afford to wait another day.

"When I've gone around the state, I've stopped at a couple of schools. And you've got everything from leaky roofs to broken HVAC systems," Davis explains. "And these are environments that you just can't have efficient learning in, and nor should teachers be expected to have to teach in."

House and Senate leaders will be working to resolve their differences in the coming weeks, and both sides are promising the largest education budget in the history of Virginia.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.