Seal of the Governor
For Immediate Release: May 3, 2019
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Alena Yarmosky, Alena.Yarmosky@governor.virginia.gov

Governor Northam Vetoes Companion Legislation with Lower Staffing Ratio for School Counselors

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today vetoed House Bill 2053, one of two bills to improve staffing ratios of school counselors. House Bill 2053 and Senate Bill 1406, sponsored by Delegate Delores McQuinn and Senator Rosalyn Dance respectively, were introduced in identical form but amended to require different staffing ratios. Governor Northam signed Senate Bill 1406 on March 25, which will require more school counselors for students and is a greater step towards the staffing ratios recommended by the Virginia Board of Education.

“While both bills would have improved the staffing ratios of school counselors beyond the status quo, the ratios included in Senate Bill 1406 go further in supporting students across the Commonwealth,” said Governor Northam. “I want to thank both Delegate McQuinn and Senator Dance for their hard work and focus on this critical issue.”

“Improving the staffing ratios for school counselors has been one of my top priorities, and this action continues to push Virginia in the right direction,” said Delegate McQuinn. “The impact that school counselors have on a student’s life and overall well-being cannot be understated. We must continue to improve these ratios in order to effectively support our students.”

“Counselors play a critical function in schools as children sometimes struggle with difficult circumstances at home or in the classroom,” said Senator Dance. “I introduced this legislation to ensure that every child has the opportunity to get help from a counselor when needed. This is an important step in meeting the needs of our students.”

The Governor’s full veto statement is below.

May 3, 2019

Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto House Bill 2053. School counselors are tremendous assets to students across the Commonwealth of Virginia. These professionals not only deliver services related to academic and career planning but also provide valuable social, emotional, and mental health supports that benefit student safety and well-being.

The General Assembly passed two bills to improve the staffing ratios of school counselors to students: House Bill 2053 and Senate Bill 1406. While both bills were introduced in the same form, they were amended to include different staffing ratios in the Standards of Quality. The ratios passed in Senate Bill 1406—which I signed on March 25, 2019—will require more school counselors for students and is a greater step towards the staffing ratios recommended by the Virginia Board of Education.

I want to thank Delegate Delores L. McQuinn for her dedication to Virginia’s students and for her tireless work on this initiative. Delegate McQuinn agrees that we must further improve the staffing ratios of school counselors to ensure that our schools are effectively supporting the needs of our students.

Accordingly, I veto this bill.

Sincerely,

 

Ralph S. Northam

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